Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Running up those hills, Seattle

Cal Anderson Park fountain

The week leading up to our getaway was busy with work deadlines, a visitor and preparations for some painting at our home. Thankfully, our son and our roommate Alain took care of moving the furniture from our guest room and bedroom in our absence. We’ve been away for just over a week and spent three days visiting with my husband’s 96 year old dad. His dad is under the watchful eye of his son the rehab med doctor and continues with a weight lifting routine of many decades.

From Edmonton we took the 100 minute flight to Seattle and stayed at the Sorrento Hotel where we were the lucky recipients of a fabulous room upgrade. At check-in, we were offered the chance to upgrade to a suite for a small increase, which we agreed to this but checked to make sure that our room had a bathtub. We’ve discovered in our travels that increasingly, hotels that have undergone renovations oftentimes have only spa-style showers.  And, indeed when we found that our suite only had a shower so we asked for another room. This error was corrected in grand style as we were given a room that was three times the size of the tub-less suite.

We are sorry to have inconvenienced you. Please accept our apologies.

The concierge told my husband that this corner suite was once occupied by Francis Ford Coppola. He also said that it was used as  a  set for “Sleepless in Seattle” to mimic a Manhattan apartment. Thus enjoying great hotel coffee with our laptops perched atop a large round, wood table, set in a very large bay window area, with a tiny bit of waterfront peeking through tall buildings has become a memorable urban holiday moment. The suite included a large bedroom, a large wooden bar, an office area and a living room area. The open style lobby-bar area was extremely inviting but we never did check it out, due to the excessive comfort of our room. The only down-side to this luxury was the worry that our tipping was not as generous as that of Coppola.

Volunteer Park, Seattle

When I asked about running routes at the front desk, the young man who checked us in admitted that the running in downtown Seattle is not great. My vision of a scenic waterfront running path did not materialize. He pointed us towards Volunteer Park as preferable to the waterfront. I’ve heard that the Seattle marathon is hilly, but the reality of hills only sunk in on our first short run of four miles. Not great for my husband’s knees but it did lead me to finally use the googlemaps pedometer elevation function for the first time ever.

Volunteer Park is home to the Asian Art Museum. It is not a large park with a running circumference of about one mile but it is lush and has well-maintained washrooms. The residential areas surrounding the park are very well treed, with beautiful gardens and colourfully staid facades that matched the Seattle of my imaginings. The hills in some of these residential areas seem frankly, improbable. In doing some research on Galer Street, which seemed one of the steepest hills I’d run, I found it listed on a blog which offered advice on training for hiking in Nepal I ran up this hill after exiting Washington Park, home to Seattle’s Japanese garden.

Run for the treats

Three of my Seattle runs ended at Sugar Bakery and Cafe just around the corner from the hotel. And the treats were sweet and a cut above the usual including; salted caramel croissants and blackberry oat scones and supremely moist carrot, walnut muffins. I ended one run in the fitness center to maintain the momentum of my weight training regime. My husband joined me for his workout and took two photos of my routine, one dignified and the other not so dignified and possibly hilarious.

Curls for biceps

In control

Showing the strain

Apart from the hills, a highlight of our Seattle story was very much about our stay at the Sorrento. The crowning moment of the energetic and superb service at this hotel came as I ran up to the main door at the end of one run and wondered what the doorman was doing as he quickly ducked behind a curtain by the lobby door. He emerged with bottled water which he handed off to a grateful me.

One item for the to-do list: Write a positive TripAdvisor review of the Sorrento Hotel.


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Winding down and eating out

All wound up as the racing season comes to a close

Dropping my mileage in preparation for my last “serious” race of the training cycle on Sunday, June 10th gave me a bit more flexibility to get out and about, and enjoy some good eats. Last Tuesday, I ran earlier than I have for a long while, leaving the house at 5:45 a.m. to run with a friend. This worked out well as I had a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting at Fran’s where I was pleased to order a breakfast favourite of mine, corn beef hash.

Fran’s corn beef hash

On Wednesday, I had a short meeting downtown to which I cycled and on the return journey to the office stopped to enjoy an excellent Korean meal of bulgogi and rice at a food vendor on Dundas, just east of Bathurst. This food stall stopover was like a “taste of Portland”, a teaser for our upcoming holiday to Portland, Oregon.

Kim’s a la Kart – Portland style vendors on Dundas east of Bathurst

Portland is famous for its street vendor food stalls, distinguishing itself from other U.S. cities with its absence of fast food venues in the downtown core. I’m reminded of another Portland food memory, the corn beef hash at Kenny and Zuke’s deli! A photo of this breakfast was part of my blog post I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken which got freshly pressed last year leading to over 2000 hits in on day one and over 1000 hits on day two.

On Thursday, I ran with a new friend from Iran who has a black belt in Judo. He is staying 2K away from Lake Ontario but had never seen the lake, so to the lake we ran. That afternoon I took my dad and son out to lunch at the Osgoode Hall Restaurant and enjoyed a very reasonably priced lunch of Arctic char.

My son and my dad at Osgoode Hall Restaurant

My dad had only been here once before for an event for the Japanese Canadian community where traditional big-sound taiko drummers performed on their mega drums. He told us that the vibrations from the pre-dinner performance loosened the accumulated century plus, dirt from the paneled wood ceiling and peppered their meals with some very aged seasoning.

Oyster Caesar

That night we belatedly celebrated our wedding anniversary at Lee’s Restaurant. I chose Thursday rather than Friday as I wanted to avoid alcohol two nights before my 5K race on Sunday. Deep sleep two nights before a race is important in order to be at your best on race day. While a glass of wine might make you sleepy, the bottom line is that it adversely affects your REM sleep. I enjoyed an oyster Caesar while my husband’s salute to me was to drink two Japanese tequilas.  The dish to order at Lee’s is Susur Lee’s signature Singaporean cole slaw which is absolutely unique, scrumptious and healthy!

Singaporean cole slaw, a must!

Race day was very warm and the sky had a smoggy hue. I opted for a warm-up routine that included a 10 minute run, 3 hours before the race start. The benefit of this early morning jog is that it loosens you up and allows you to  get a good stretch earlier on. It also helps to alleviate pre-race jitters and anxiety about getting a full warm-up in later on. While warming up on a side-street near the race start I ran into a former teammate who I had not seen for a few years and learned that his wife had died five months ago.

Shortly after this emotional moment I found myself in a stand-off with a fellow participant. A group of older (well that being my age actually) female recreational runners were positioned at the very front of the start line and it sounded like the goal for one of them was to simply finish her first 5K race. I politely mentioned the pace I was intending to run and asked if they would mind if I moved in front of them. One of the women was obviously unaware of race etiquette and let me know that they had done their “due diligence” in arriving early and based on the first-come, first-served principle of a grocery check-out  line were entitled to be at the front. I tried to explain that for the safety and enjoyment of all, race line-ups are organized by pace.  My husband says I should have just moved in front of their group rather than trying to be polite and explain. Comments?

A meal prepared for us by our son

I could feel a bit of an adrenalin rush from this exchange and mentally directed it to my race and let go of any negative thoughts. Inwardly I wished them a happy race but realized that if I were to verbalize this, they would probably think I was being sarcastic.

I ran a good steady-hard pace throughout and was satisfied with my time of 21:56 at the Toronto Challenge 5K on a muggy, hot day. The route was changed from last year and I noticed that times were much slower than 2011. One friend wondered if the course might have been long by 400 meters. It was not an ideal course to run a season’s best but psychologically it felt shorter than the many-cornered 5K I ran the week before. The course had only four turns. For me the main factors in falling short of my time were ideal racing weight, the heat and a need for more speed-endurance, tempo training. I still hope to go under 20 minutes but I can see it will take a lot of focus, along with more mileage while maintaining the quality speedwork I’ve been doing since February. With my plan to run a marathon in the fall, my fast 5K may have to wait until next spring.

A basil and tiny tomato quiche baked by me for a group of dedicated volunteers at my workplace

About that marathon – well I’m in the process of setting my goal and considering that of going under 3:30 which according to the age-graded calculator is a 2:41 open-category equivalent for someone who on October 14th, marathon day, will be two days away from turning *57*. Egads, I don’t really like the sound of that number. I’m a person who generally likes the idea of five-year plans but now that they take me to age 62 I find myself wanting to put a pause on long-term planning.

Anyhow, my winter-spring race season is finito! And it’s time to look ahead to late-summer and fall races. I’m in much better shape than I was last June so that makes me feel motivated and excited about summer training. But first there is a bit of down-time to take (no speedwork) and holiday time to enjoy.

What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.
C. S. Lewis


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The long and short of running

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Jeremy Lin jersey

Asian athletic pride

I’ve only blogged once in May due to ongoing busyness and a backlog of chores. A major highlight was Mother’s Day brunch at the InterContinental Yorkville where I received a Jeremy Lin jersey and consumed a dozen oysters among other things. Another high point was taking my parents to Auberge du Pommier for lunch as a late Mother’s Day and early Father’s day outing.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day

So I have been running long, or at least long enough for 5K training. After racing indoor track in February and March and then 5K and 10K in March and April, I felt I had reached a bit of a plateau so I took three easy weeks which coincided with my busy period. After that  I hit the track and was pleased that our track repeats were on the short side. The past three Saturdays I’ve done three decent longer runs at a faster-than-usual pace. I’ve been having trouble sleeping in the past year or so, so I’m not as eager to head out super-early on Saturdays despite the great feeling of finishing 10-18 miles by mid-morning. The body will not properly absorb training without a good supply of deep sleep.

I ran with a teammate a few weeks ago, who normally would be too fast for me but as he was recovering from the Boston marathon, sharing a run was doable. He told me that he remembered my name as the woman in the 50-54 category who was faster than him in one of his first half-marathons when he took up distance running six or seven years ago. He told me that as a young runner his benchmark had  been that he was always able to finish ahead of girls his age. So he was startled to discover that a woman ten years his senior beat him in the half-marathon.  He was also startled when I told him that his easy, recovery pace was putting me into the threshold heart rate zone as we ran.  Ah, I was so much faster then, I’m older than that now.

Another Saturday I ran with a teammate who is very new to running and has run excellent times for his category of 60-64. At our pub night a few weeks ago, I was astonished to discover that the farthest he had ever run in training was 12K. Following our conversation he ran 17K on his own and then ran 16K with me the week after.

Last Saturday a friend, who now lives in Regina dropped in to join the usual Saturday run crowd. What a treat to catch up on the run. The last time I saw him was last year when he lived in Ottawa. We had breakfast at the Chateau Laurier which is perhaps more of a treat than a hard 13. 5 miles run. I was having a hard time sleeping and woke that morning at 4:30 a.m. I left for the run at 7:00 a.m. It felt fairly hard and I was bagged when I got home, taking a cat nap shortly after. In the afternoon I napped from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. My recipe for a sound sleep – wake early, run hard, nap . . . hmm.  There must be a better drug-free way to deep sleep.

One reason why the run felt hard was that on Thursday I had a great track work out of 8 x 300 meters. I ran the final 300 in 56 seconds! Not bad for an aging racehorse. I’m gearing up to run a couple of 5K’s in June.  I think I’ve got the speed honed and will concentrate on speed-endurance for the next couple of weeks. I’ve started back to my weight lifting routine and as is always the case upon returning to this routine of a few decades, it feels great to flex those muscles. My goal for this training cycle is to go under 21 minutes. Weather will be a factor as I do not run well in the heat so cross your fingers for cool June mornings.

Due to lack of photos of the above, I leave you with photos of what fuels all this activity 🙂

Sea bass and best Brussels sprouts ever! 

Eggs Benny and oysters for Mother’s Day

Our twenty-something roommate cooks for us

Classic dessert mille-feuille, deconstructed à la Oliver & Bonacini


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Three cheers for Bloor Street!

People4Kids Gala

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


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Guide My Feet

Team Spirit, on the run

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.

Envelope stuffers

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.

Decorative elements

You can listen to one rendition of Guide My Feet here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z64X_LWQrN8

GUIDE MY FEET

Guide my feet while I run this race.
Guide my feet while I run this race.
Guide my feet while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain!

Hold my hand while I run this race.
Hold my hand while I run this race.
Hold my hand while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain!

Stand by me while I run this race.
Stand by me while I run this race.
Stand by me while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain!

I’m your child while I run this race.
I’m your child while I run this race.
I’m your child while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain!

Search my heart while I run this race.
Search my heart while I run this race.
Search my heart while I run this race,
for I don’t want to run this race in vain!

Text & Music: African American Spiritual

Harmony: Wendell Whallum


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Busiest month ever?

I had meant to post these quotes last weekend but time has slipped by quickly in this which is perhaps the busiest month of my life. Belated Easter Greetings!

Happy Easter

“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”  Frank Buchman

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But … the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’  Martin Luther King

At the moment I am oh-so-tired but I got my long run of 15 miles in today and it looks like I will hit my mileage goal of 55 mile/89 km for the week. My plan seemed at risk on Thursday when I could feel a cold coming on. I decided to make it a short day at work due to fatigue but stopped at Starbuck’s on the way home hoping for a caffeine lift. Sinking into one of the big cushy chairs after one sip of my latte, I fell asleep for 30 minutes. When I got home I napped for 90 minutes and didn’t feel too bad afterward so I picked myself up and headed to my team workout. The workout was 4-6 800’s which I ran at a brisk, but far from top-end pace. Surprisingly, I felt better after the workout than I had felt all day. I slept well that night and ran an easy six miles before work.

Moving back in time, I ran 50 miles last week on the heels of my 21:04 in the 5K.  In spite of over-stimulation on three fronts, my course, my work and working towards the People4Kids Gala on May 2nd I have managed a bit of fun since my last blog. And now, more blogging fun as post-long-run fatigue finds me a little lacking in the focus needed to plow through my school assignment.

Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County

In early April we stayed overnight at a B & B in Prince Edward County, a stay that prompted me to write a 2 Star review on Trip Advisor, my second bad review, the first being at a hotel on the Ramblas in Barcelona.  The main benefit of the time away was that we were very happy to return home.

Never too old for an Easter egg hunt

We had some fun on Easter Sunday with a family gathering and I was pleased that my trademark home-baked challah was a bit hit. Another highlight was a lunch at C-5 our gala venue with my mom and two of her friends from her days of fighting for redress for Japanese Canadians. One friend a writer and Companion of the Order of Canada and the other the first female judge of Asian descent in Canada. I enjoyed hearing them catch up on news. On the topic of busy months I’ll have to ask my mom, mother of six children and 14 grandchildren, how my busiest month stacks up to hers?

Trio of role models (my mom in the center)


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On blogging, baking and running around

Yikes! My goal is to post at least once a week and I am behind. I am seriously busy these days but my running is going very well. It just leaves little time to blog. And I do miss blogging and both my husband and son read my blog. I think they miss the blogging me 🙂  I also miss having the time to bake but was able to squeeze in a lemon-poppyseed pound cake for my boss’s  birthday and some wild pig shaped gingerbread cookies which I mailed to my nephew in Phoenix.

Havelina (wild pig) gingerbread

I’ve been taking a course which takes about 15 hours a week of my time. I’m in the throes of organizing a gala which my husband and I Co-Chair and work is fairly intense these days. I hope to run under 21 minutes later this year for 5K and have been joining my track team 1-2 times a week for speed sessions.

I ran 6.5 miles yesterday in the most broken up fashion ever in trying to fit everything in. I’m planning to run a 5K in the beaches area and the race is a throwback to the days of small community driven races. There is no on-line entry and no mail-in entry. The registration takes place over the course of six evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. way out on the other side of town. A real dilemma for the time-crunched. I considered finding another race but I’ve run this one a couple of times and I like the low-key atmosphere and the course is a fairly fast, out and back route along the eastern beach.

Lemon poppyseed pound cake

There are a couple of friends who live way east of me who I’ve not seen for awhile. I sent an email in the morning to see if they might be able to meet me for coffee during my rare appearance in that neck of the woods. Bingo! One friend had a date nearby that meshed with my timing.

Here is how my run went:

  • 5:00 p.m. Run half mile to subway
  • 5:05 – 5:20 p.m. Read course material on subway
  • 5:20 – 5:50 p.m. Run from Coxwell subway to friend-meeting point at Book City on Queen street.
  • 5:50 -7:00 p.m. Catch up with Dolores and enjoy bowl of seafood chowder with slice of bread
  • 7:00-7:05 p.m. Run to community centre to register for run
  • 7:05-7:20 p.m. Register for run
  • 7:20-7:55 p.m. Run to Coxwell subway station
  • 7:55-8:10 p.m. Finish reading course material on subway
  • 8:10 – 8:15 p.m. Run home

Total distance run over 3 hours and 15 minutes was 6 1/2 miles. Perhaps the lowest quality run ever. However, I’ve been having really great workouts since February including the night before. It was magical to be able to run on the Varsity stadium track at the very end of winter. WooHoo! I ran 6 x 1000 meters at a steady pace.

The week before I was really pleased with my result at the Canadian Masters Indoor Track Championships. I ran the 3000m in 12:32 which was a very solid national class age-graded score equivalent to running 9:52 in the open category. My confidence has really been boosted by racing on the track.

That's me on the left in the outside lane

As for the course, I just finished an assignment that is due Saturday. I’m frantically trying to get ahead of the game as the date the big project is due coincides with the gala. Enough, is enough and I’m now allowing myself the luxury of a blog post.

This is not a sustainable pace and I look forward to life post-gala. But the effort is worth the result and sometimes, there is no other way to get things done than get into fifth gear for awhile. If I get this post done tonight I still have ten days to get two more done by the end of the month.

I have no one to blame but myself for this state of affairs. But I do feel quite fulfilled and it won’t be long before I can take my sweet time and hopefully run a 5K under 21 minutes at age 56 with enough time to smell those roses afterward. According to the age-graded calculator my new motto should be:

20:59 is the new 16:59 . . . sigh