Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


Leave a comment

Running with the Ethiopians

Ambaye-Medal

P2P Board Member Ambaye Kidane ran his first 5K ever!

More than thirty runners of Ethiopian descent took part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon races (STWM) on Sunday, October 20th as members of TEAM P2P.

P2P Champions – Messai Gessesee, Ambaye Kidane, Fassil Tessema and Amele Zegwe – placed high in the fundraising results for People to People Aid Organization Canada (P2P). Their motivation was not to further the legendary status of Ethiopian distance running but to champion the cause of children orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia.

Fassil Tessema

P2P Board member, Fassil visits orphaned kids in Ethiopia

Former Canada Running Series Masters Champion (2002, 2003) Lynn Kobayashi has boldly laid claim to “getting the Toronto Ethiopian community running”.  A committed volunteer for P2P and Fundraising and Communications consultant, Lynn knew that the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the STWM was a “perfect fundraising fit for P2P on so many levels”. The funds raised support P2P’s orphan sponsorship program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

STWM-P2P-Lynn

Running for Ethiopian children

Of the organization, Lynn remarks, “The dedicated Board members and volunteers of P2P are fundraising ultra-marathoners. They committed to their first year of participation in the STWM but felt it prudent to continue to hold their annual walkathon this summer. Despite the short time since their last very similiar fundraising effort, this very small but committed group met their dream goal of raising $20,000 at the STWM.  Bringing the total of the two walk-a-thon events to over $50,000.”

Deressa Chimsa

Participants were so very excited about the event itself.  And needless to say were thrilled that an Ethiopian, Deressa Chimsa set a record for the fastest marathon run on Canadian soil.  Already, plans are underway for 2014. Get your feet in motion for an important cause. It is not too early to sign up to run with the Ethiopians!

For info on joining TEAM P2P CLICK HERE

To sponsor Lynn CLICK HERE (deadline October 31, 2013)


Leave a comment

I was going to give up marathons for awhile but . . .

I’ve been accepted into the 2014 Boston Marathon.  Yes, I was there in 2013 and like many others feel a need to be there in 2014 to get a sense of closure.  I feel bad for those who worked really hard to get under the qualifying time, and just made their times. With the rolling registration dates, depending on how far under the qualification time you ran, it will be difficult to get in this year. The running world will be watching to see how quickly registration fills up for 2014.

Good luck to those who are waiting anxiously to find out whether they will get in.  I would be willing to give up my spot to someone who has been trying to qualify for five years or more. I guess in effect, I could do something along those lines by not registering. So much for altruism.

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

Boston acceptance email


Leave a comment

Exactly three years ago . . .

I neglected to celebrate my third blog-o-versary earlier this month. It all started when I took a blogging course at OCAD with a great instructor Greg Smith. I went on to complete the OCAD Digital Media Certificate which has helped me on-the-job with website content management  and communications.  Hundreds of blog posts later, here I am, albeit struggling to get in a minimum of two posts a month. I feel that if I don’t keep that up, I’ll stop entirely. Which begs the question, why not stop . . . hmmm, the topic of my next post? Actually my problem is not lack of content but too many ideas and too much to say, which makes it hard to get started.

Anyhow, the following is post from August 31, 2010 and it was interesting (to me at least) to see that I was then contemplating joining the UTTC Masters. It took me awhile to finally sign up but ta da, I’ve been a card-carrying member for over 1 1/2 years and loving it.

First Stop Sacramento  (August 31, 2010)

For someone who is used to running high-mileage in marathon training.  Running 50 miles a week hardly takes a thought.  I run about an hour a day with a 2 hour plus run on the weekend – this is the default.   However, with 15 weeks until my pre-Boston, marathon outing in Sacramento, the moment has come to either train seriously, forget about it or suffer in the final miles of the race.

2007, Sacramento 30K

So, I’m formulating my plan and the mileage build will go like this 57 miles this week, 61 miles next week and 57 miles the following week (including a rare day off for travel).  I like to do 2-3 solid weeks of building miles and then take an easier week.  Fortunately, this easy week will coincide with a trip to Germany.  My long run will increase from 12-15 miles to 17, 18 and up to 22 miles.

In addition to the increased mileage I have to start speedwork.  I’ve committed to hitting the track with a group.  For the past two years I’ve been taking evening courses, this year I will go to track school.  I’m excited about running on the new Varsity stadium track.  The very scene of my first marathon finish.  The coach, Paul Osland is a former Olympian who is now whipping a group of motivated masters into tip top shape.  I’m apprehensive about the return to the intensity of speed work.  My fast running for the past two years has gone something like this . . . run fast when I feel like it for 30 – 120 seconds.  Take as much rest as I need.

From what I can tell, the plan for Thursday is to run 150 meters at a very fast pace, 18 times and the do it again for a total of 36 fast repeats.  Then we are to bound up stairs, 2 steps at a time, 5 times and then repeat.  I’ve never done circuit training, of which we are to do 4 laps.  Hmm . . .

This could be painful.  Given that most of these runners will be peaking in the early fall, and my timing of a December marathon is unusual, I hope to get some sort of just-starting-out dispensation. I’m reminded of how once, when in top form I remarked to another runner as we readied ourselves for a grueling session à la Zeba Crook that his workouts were effective because they helped us to increase our pain threshold.  The runner turned to me and said, “but that is not what I signed up for”. No doubt . . . I’ll soon have a tale to tell.

Gulp . . .


3 Comments

A matter of time, crossing the line at Boston

It is taking me awhile to process the experience of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon at 2:39:20 p.m. – 10 minutes before the explosions went off at 2:49:43 p.m.

BostonFinish Area3in-x

Where I was standing when I heard the explosions is shown by the *X*

Runners are greeted at the finish line by officials whose  job is to make sure they move along quickly through the post-finish line area which spreads over three city blocks. This process includes; recovery drinks and water, getting a heat sheet blanket, a sticker to keep the heat blanket secured, a medal, the option of a photo while wearing the heat sheet blanket and medal and then a bag of food. I did all of the above, except for the drinks in those ten minutes.

Just after receiving my bag of food explosions were heard and a very large plume of smoke rose to what seemed like 20 stories high. It appeared to be at least a mile away. My sense is that we were all thinking “this can’t be good” but were hoping that it might be simply be a gas explosion. Nobody wanted to believe that it could be something more sinister.

An integral aspect of the Boston Marathon experience is the spectators. Having been buoyed by their support all the way, I now realize survivor guilt is inevitable. The rational question is “Why anyone?” but as a benefactor of the incredible enthusiasm and cheer-leading at Boston the question for a participant becomes “Why so many spectators when they were only there for us?”.

PROTECTED FROM ANXIETY

Somehow the mayhem did not immediately spread two blocks past the finish line.  We did not hear a chorus of sirens wail, leading one woman to echo our hopes (or state of denial) when she said, “It’s funny that there aren’t more sirens maybe that means its not serious.”  We saw one or two officials run towards the finish line but without giving us any direction. We had no idea what was going on. The roar of the crowds at Boston are deafening. I think I will always ask myself why we were not able to make out that the screams of encouragement from two blocks away had turned to screams of anguish, pain and terror.

We finishers continued,  albeit with some anxiety, with the usual post-race routine, the next step to pick up a checked bag. My checked bag contained items that I was willing to leave behind should the line-up be overlong.  I have a cache of old gear saved expressly for this. My habit with out-of-town marathons is to stay at  hotel within reasonable walking distance to the marathon finish should I decide to skip picking up my baggage and have just a heat blanket to keep warm. I still considered picking up my bag as there was still no sense of panic in my immediate area. I walked by the baggage bus and saw that there was a line-up of 6-7 runners for my bib number sequence (which by usual standards is quite reasonable) but decided that it was sensible to skip the baggage check. I walked quickly out of the runner-only area eager to reunite with my husband asap.

Our hotel was 1 mile from the finish line and our meet-up plan was a street corner enroute to the hotel. The understanding was that if he was not there, I would likely head back to the hotel and message him. At the best of times, nothing is more unpredictable than trying to connect with friends and family after a marathon, especially when you are away from your home city. The chaos and worry that ensued for all those who were more immediately affected by uncertainty in reuniting must have been grueling.

Boston after the finish line

Turning towards a spectator friend for a photo after crossing the finish line in 2007

My mental construct was that my husband may have seen me cross the finish line and be walking parallel to me on the sidewalk toward the exit to the runner-only area or our meeting spot. I drew this image from 2007 when I was spotted by a friend just after I finished and she took a photo from the sidelines. Since I did not realize how close the blast had been this image did not cause me to worry. I walked over to our meeting spot and my husband was not there so I walked quickly back to the hotel where I immediately emailed him.

3:26 p.m.
Subject: I am at the hotel 🙂

Shortly after, he replied . . .

3:31 p.m.
Subject: re: I am at the hotel 🙂

Thank God

After this an email arrived which included a link to a photo from the devastation at the finish line. I was then that I became aware of what had happened.


Leave a comment

Post-Boston Marathon

Dear friends,

Thank you for all your concern and care. I deeply mourn and grieve for the loss of life and injury suffered by so many at the Boston marathon. My heart and prayers go out to their friends and families. The spectators at Boston are one-of-a-kind and exemplify the best of American exuberance, civic pride and love-of-sport. As a runner whose spirits have been buoyed by the unbelievable cheer-leading of Bostonians for a fifth time, the fact that spectators were a target adds yet another element of tragedy. If city dwellers everywhere could rise to the level of support and celebration that exists at Boston, cities everywhere would be better for it. Boston, we feel your pain.

Lynn

Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

Finish line 2007


11 Comments

The Boston Marathon, a bigger picture

Toronto_Marathon_1995

Running a first marathon with mom

Before I met Amy, the author of this blog post, I met her mom, Jeraldine Ballon. But the circle has closed and now Amy and I are members of the same track club. Knowing something of what the Boston marathon means to her, I asked her to share her very special memories of her mom and their shared love of running. Here is her beautiful story.

Scroll

It has been 12 years since I last ran the Boston Marathon, but this time of year still brings back many memories of Boston and my mom. Of the 10 marathons my mother ran between the ages of 51 and 56, four of them were Boston. This is her story of becoming an athlete, and her road to Boston.

Boston marathon 1997

Boston marathon 1997

Always the last kid picked to be on a team, I don’t think my mother thought she had an athletic bone in her body. Plus, as someone with a penchant for beer and potato chips who happened to be rail-thin, she may not have thought that she even needed to exercise. Everything changed when she won a membership to a posh, downtown Toronto gym. I remember the day she went in for her fitness assessment in a pair of sparkly sneakers she’d purchased on vacation at a K-Mart because they were the only ‘runners’ she owned.

The positive experience she had in the gym quickly snowballed and she fell in love. Not only did she enjoy watching her body grow stronger, but she discovered running. Her goal of running a marathon followed soon after and she planned to run the New York City Marathon. As I stood on the sidelines that day, both our lives were changed. My mom was hooked, and I was inspired. I promptly began training for my first marathon

Together we ran marathons in Toronto, Chicago and Washington. My mother also went on to run Paris. Our times decreased and our love of running increased while we logged hundreds and hundreds of training miles together. My mother started to get really fast, consistently winning her age category. I counted myself lucky to have this special relationship with both running and my mother.

Boston 1998

Boston 1998

And then there was Boston. My mom ran Boston in 1997, 1998 and 1999. And she ran with me after I qualified in 2000. Boston in 2000 was also special because it was just six months after her hysterectomy. She had had emergency surgery after cancer had been discovered in her uterus. Funny enough, it was her running that led her to self-diagnose. Her training had made her so aware of what was going on in her body, that went things started to feel ‘off’, she advocated for herself very quickly. She was treated, given a clean bill of health, and a 98% survival rate.

Things were good that fall: I was newly married, newly graduated from business school, and working in a great job. Training for was going well too, until one day when my mother told me that she didn’t think Boston 2001 would be in the cards. She wasn’t feeling well.

A few months later her worst suspicions were confirmed: Against the odds, the cancer had metastasized and her body was riddled with it. She was told that she had a few months to live. Nothing could be done to treat her.

In April 2001 I traveled to Boston with my husband, my dad and my mom who came to support me. My mother was not in great shape. It took a lot of effort to walk even a block or two. But she managed to score three passes to the finish line seats on the bleachers on Boylston Street. (Thank you, Adidas!) That was not an easy race. Heartbreak Hill took on a new meaning for me that day. Choking back my tears, I saw my family in the stands as I crossed the finish line. Boston was the last trip my mother took. She died a few months later.

Losing my mom was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But how lucky am I that I had a mother who, by inspiring me, introduced me to running and changed my life? How lucky am I that I got to run the Boston Marathon with my mother? How many people get to say that?

Boston 1999

Boston 1999

I haven’t run Boston since that year, and in fact took a ten year hiatus from the sport. But I have started to run again. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back on Boylston Street one day; maybe with one of my own daughters. One thing I know for sure: When I run now, the inspiration my mother provided is right there with me.

~ Amy Ballon


Leave a comment

The Easter Bunny & the Boston Marathon

Easter bunnies

Once again, I find myself on the last day of the month rushing to meet my twice-a-month minimum blogging goal. We are hosting our family Easter dinner, making things a little busy around here. Although, I was pleased to find out that my husband will not go into the office today. It is a busy time for him. So having assigned him some chores, I now have a bit of breathing room for a quick blog post.

Tapering for Boston

I started tapering for Boston on Thursday by taking a day off. This on the heels of a 10 day cycle of 100 miles total. Things went well and I found myself wondering if I had trained hard enough. Although for the final 16 miler on Wednesday my pace was at the slower end of the pace-range I had in mind.

Thursday night I met a friend for a very informal Scrabble tournament at a local restaurant. I had warned him that when my husband and I play, we really, really take our time. In fact, we read while the other is taking their turn. Nonetheless, I think he was a bit surprised at how long I took and I felt a bit rushed. I was supplied with a *Cheat Sheet* which included; all the allowable two-letter words, all three letter words, all short words using *Q* and more. Newcomers are allowed to use this for their first three games.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this outing but despite getting whopped, I found sipping a glass of Malbec over the course of three Scrabble games and intermittent conversation very relaxing. My friend who recently read the book, “Younger Next Year” has increased his workout habits. I’m hoping that if I get more serious about a mental fitness program that my brain will be younger-next-year.

My husband and I are very evenly matched at Scrabble and we have recorded the scores for all the games we have played. I feel I learned quite a bit on my evening out and am thus very eager to test this out on him. He has declined and is sticking to the solitary pursuit of Sudoku. He’s much enjoyed the beautiful board pictured above, a gift from our son’s girlfriend. Quite a striking “objet”.

Cute bunny

Happy Easter friends!

My mental fitness routine, as yet, is not fully articulated but roughly includes reading more,  making the effort to learn new software and how to use all the features of the many gadgets that have come into my life. I’m  hope to tackle some Sudoku however having gone through a phase of Sudoku-obsession when they first came on the scene, I have concerns about taking the plunge again.

I’m plodding towards completion of “Les Miserables” having read 850 pages of 1202, I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been interspersing this with another book of reflections and a teaser for “The Great Convergence, Asia, The West and the Logic of One World”. I generally read more non-fiction than fiction but the plan is to read “Tale of Two Cities” after that. While I love Dickens this one wasn’t at the top of my list until reading “Les Miserables”. Dickens by the way, was born 10 years after Victor Hugo and died 10 years earlier.

There’s bread to bake and houses to clean so I must go. Although, I no longer have to make breakfast having fueled up on one of the chocolate bunnies from the  top photo.

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

“Woe, alas, to those who have loved only bodies, forms, appearances! Death will rob them of everything. Try to love souls, you will find them again.”  Victor Hugo – Les Miserables