Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Running with an Ethiopian Legend

 Miruts, Michal & Me

Lynn Kobayashi, Miruts Yifter, Michal Kapral, the Joggler

Lynn Kobayashi, Miruts Yifter and Michal “The Joggler” Kapral

Last year I boldly laid claim to getting the Ethiopian community in Toronto running. This year, the Ethiopians in Toronto are clearly on an upward trajectory led by Ethiopian running giant, Miruts Yifter. How was it that I was able to convince my Ethiopian friends that taking part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon races was a must? The short answer is orphan sponsorship. Double-gold medal Olympian Miruts Yifter has embraced the cause of the over 1 million orphaned children in Ethiopia. AND joggling in Miruts footsteps was Michal Kapral “the Joggler” who dedicated his successful Guinness World Record attempt to P2P Canada’s orphan sponsorship program.

Leading up to the race we had fun. An interview with Michal gave me the chance to meet up with Michal and Miruts Yifter. Earlier, there was a training session in Riverdale Park where Miruts led the team through some stretching and offered training tips. The interviewer was running late but our time hanging out in the hotel lobby was well-spent. There was a steady stream of elite marathon runners passing by including a few Ethiopians.

Tariku Jufar with Miruts Yifter

Tariku Jufar with Miruts Yifter

This was fun because the Ethiopian athletes kept doing double-takes in delight when they spotted Miruts. I passed my cell phone to Miruts so he could see the YouTube footage of his gold medal 10K and he showed this to the young Ethiopians. When Miruts mentioned that this took place in 1980, the reaction of the two youngsters betrayed the fact that they had not yet been born. This made for an all-round chuckle.

The group also discussed the speed of Miruts last 400 in this race, an astonishing 49 seconds. Apparently, this is an Ethiopian record of sorts for the final lap of a 10K. Miruts of course is nicknamed “The Shifter” for his ability to shift into this otherworldly gear.

Tariku Jufar of Ethiopia finished second in 2:08:36 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th, 2014. I finished first in the 55-59 age-category and very much enjoyed having my son and husband take part too. Race morning was finished off nicely with a post-race celebration at Sheba Restaurant where we enjoyed a buffet breakfast of Ethiopian and Canadian goodies. And of course, some great coffee!

Steven Deutscher-Kobayashi, Lynn Kobayashi, Pat Deutscher

Me and my family

Our amazing team of elite fundraisers raised over $35,000 for children orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia. While a few of the young runners were ahead of me in the race, many were not, which led me to challenge this contingent of young runners to make sure they trained next year to ensure they beat me.

Young Ethiopians

Trash talking with the youngsters

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Douglas J. (Shaggy) Smith, masters running impresario

How does he do it? This is a question I ask myself regularly on the heels of Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA) events for which Doug assumes duties as registrar, volunteer coordinator, webmaster, meet director, photographer and a few other tasks that only those, who have done this work, would know of. And did I mention helping us retrieve lost passwords for our membership login page? I returned to racing in 1996 at an indoor Masters Meet. Doug’s involvement predates this and he has been an ever-present “force” since.

In order to find out a little more about the always-in-motion Doug, I asked him the same questions from my previous post, taken from the article New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners . I also added some questions of my own.

Doug Smith in the Steeplechase, Canadian Outdoor Track Championships

Doug Smith in the Steeplechase, Canadian Outdoor Track Championships

DOUG’S ANSWERS to New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners

What did you learn in 2013 that you want to apply to your training in 2014?
Lack of consistent mileage was a problem I’ll try to work on in 2014.

What was a great moment that you will remember about 2013?
Running at the back of the pack in the Steeplechase at the World Championships in Brazil. So happy to be competing after cracking my tibia in the Steeple three months earlier.

What goals do you have for 2014?
Nothing special….just to keep going.Two resolutions: one running resolution and a non-running one? I never have resolutions. I always try to improve myself – in running, training, and in administration of our events.

MY QUESTIONS FOR DOUG

1980 Toronto Marathon, Doug's first

1980 Toronto Marathon, Doug’s first

When did you start running?
I ran around the block when I was a little kid, with my Dad timing me, after I saw Abebe Bikila win the Olympic Marathon in ’60. I ran in High School, but just in Phys. Ed. class. There was no track team.

Who got you started?
I started in earnest in ’78, right in the Jim Fixx running boom. We had moved into the house and I was ready to get into it. My wife got me a running log for my birthday and I’ve kept one ever since.

What was your first race?
After running in the neighbourhood for a year and a half, I decided to try the Eaton’s 10K in 1980. I ran 49:00. Then, in September, I paid the $5 entry fee and ran the Toronto Marathon with very little mileage or any idea what I was doing. The last 10K was gruesome and I finished in 4:14

Doug Smith & Paul Osland, Presiden of Canadian Masters Athletics (3rd term)

Doug Smith & Paul Osland, President of Canadian Masters Athletics (3rd term)

Who got you involved with the OMA?
I showed up for a race in Sunnybrook Park in ’88. It happened to be cancelled. I noticed these guys warming up for a Metro Fitness race and I went in that one. They told me there was a Masters cross-country race the next weekend. That was the first time I heard of the Masters.

I went to the OMA Outdoors in’91 in Oshawa. I was looking for a ride home, so I went to the AGM to look for one. They were looking for another Board member, and someone said “What about this guy?”. . . I couldn’t think of a good excuse. Two years later I was President.

How did you get into photography?
I joined the Photography Club in High School. I became the President (I see a trend here!). One of the priests set up a darkroom and I shot all the team photos and developed and printed them, I also worked for the Yearbook. I set up a darkroom when we got the house and then digital came along.

What running accomplishment are you most proud of?
Hmmm . . . I ran the CMA Championships Steeplechase in Montreal in 1990 when they announced it was a M35 Canadian Record. That kind of took me by surprise. I’ve run 23 marathons and well over 500 races and I only dropped out of two – one with a foot injury, and one when I pulled a hamstring in the World’s cross-country meet in Finland.

At my first track meet ever – the OMA Indoor Championships in 1989, I ran 4:36 in the 1500m, then 2:22 in the 800m, then rested a bit on the lunch break and then ran 18:15 in the 5000m. I never ran faster in the 800 and 1500.

What made you decide to compete in the steeplechase?
I guess I saw my first Steeple at the masters meet in ’89 and thought that it looked like fun. I wondered if being taller would be a bit of an advantage. I tried it for the first time at the Ontario Championships the next year.

It became my favourite event. You have to pace yourself so carefully – to save enough energy to get over all the barriers, as well as working harder than any other event in the last laps! I hurdled the barriers until I was about 44, then I started stepping on them. Then, when I was about 56, I started vaulting them. At 60, they were lower, and I started stepping on them again.

Five non-running biographical facts you would like to share.

  • I worked for 30 years as a tech at Bell and retired in 2004.
  • I’ve been married (to the same woman) for 42 years.
  • I’ve been President of the Ontario Masters for 20 years.
  • I played a small part in founding the University of Toronto Masters Track Club 5 years ago.


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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.

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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


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Rainy run in Fergus

Rail path from Fergus to Elora, Ontario

Oh, and did I mention that I ran a marathon a couple of weeks back? I’m on the mend from the disappointment of my second-slowest marathon time since my first marathon back in 1981. At some point I hope to blog about it but I’m moving on and enjoying a lot of very short runs as part of my recovery. We just spent three days in Fergus in small-town Ontario and enjoyed a lot of R&R at a local B&B.

Fergus Brew Pub – Sante!

It was a rainy time and we decided to skip our planned three miler on Saturday. I was ready to skip running on Sunday but got out the door thanks to my husband. He had looked into the local trails and led us to the trail-head of a rail path which runs from Fergus to Elora. I carried out my plan to run a modest 20 minute tempo workout within a 5 miler. In spite of the light rain, I felt pretty good and was tempted to extend my tempo run. Erring on the side of post-marathon recovery, I stuck to the plan.

I took a full five days off running after the marathon BUT I am trying to salvage a modicum of fitness to run a masters cross-country meet on November 11th.  My strategy is to keep my runs very short and do some minimal tempo running. In addition to the five days off I ran three miles, twice, for a total of six miles my first post-marathon week. My longest run so far has been five miles.

I read this when I was a girl! Coffee at the Fergus General Store

I’ve been enjoying catching up with friends and getting out and about. Last week we attended the final 2012 Massey Lecture at Koerner Hall, given by Neil Turok. Last night I saw Otto Preminger’s  Bonjour Tristesse from 1958 at the Bell Lightbox and I’ve been getting a bit of reading in. Although my current read A Song for Nagasaki while inspiring if not life-changing, is heavy going. Tomorrow we are going to see Betty Lavette at the Wintergarden Theatre. We saw her earlier this year at the Portland Blues Festival.

Fergus was exactly what we were looking for. It is a simple one-main-street-town with limited choices of what to do. We really enjoyed the fall fair at a local church, picking up books, dishes and a parsons bench.  I was also the winning bidder on the nativity scene shown below 🙂 We also checked out a couple of flea markets, ate at an Indian restaurant, a creperie and a brew pub across the way from our B&B.

The only bidder, the winning bidder! Handknit Nativity Scene

Getting back to the marathon, there is a whole other very happy side of the story which is a about my “other team” but somehow it seems too long a tale to tell as I rush to complete my second post of the month. Two posts a month is my minimum and well, it IS the 31st.

While we were away we found out via Facebook that our son and his friend who lives with us were holding a Halloween party. We hoped the party goers did not get carried away like this pumpkin we spotted in Elora on Saturday. Happy Halloween!

Spotted in Elora


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A Tale of Three 10K’s

Marathon countdown, two weeks to go and time to start evaluating my training and racing results from the past five weeks to determine a target pace for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

On August 26th, I ran a 10K I’d rather forget in Quebec City. The route was a lovely, slightly rolling, point-to-point route run on a wide scenic parkway along the St. Lawrence with one wide turn. The weather was hideous with near 100% humidity, high-heat and not the slightest breeze to be felt. I was far off my goal of going under 45 minutes with a time of 47:35.

Last Sunday, I ran a 10K in Oakville in 45:37. The weather was fabulous, the course fairly flat and I was satisfied with my time. Apparently the course was long. Members of a local running club posted their times with revisions to what they felt their results should-have-been. I was happy to accept the possibility that my time was really closer to 44:40.

A long course . . . I’m open to the possibility.

Today I took part in what was billed as a time trial. The Railpath Run took place on a 2K loop with a timing mat at each 1K mark. The challenge was to see how many kilometers you could run in 45 minutes. The top three male and female runners were determined by the number of kilometers logged and a tie would be broken by the fastest time for those kilometers. My what-if  is . . . say two runners both run 9K but one runner passes the other and holds the lead before the 45 minutes is up. Does the runner with the fastest 9K time still win? In the women’s race this scenario did not materialize as the top two both ran more than 10K but less than 11K. From about 400 meters, I was in fourth place and not long after passed one woman and held on for third place. I received a lovely photograph taken along the rail path route.

Awards at the Railpath Run

The drama for me came when at the last kilometer I saw that I would have to run a really fast lap to get timed for 10K. With the help of cheering from an enthusiastic volunteer who saw how close I was to crossing the timing mat before 45 minutes was up, I just made it! My last lap was my fastest time of 4:16. I was pleased as the last lap was also one of the harder ones as it had some uphill running and a severe hairpin turn.

MY SPLITS
1: 4:22 4:22 downhill
2: 4:31 8:52 downhill, hairpin turn, uphill
3: 4:36 13:27 uphill
4: 4:35 18:02 uphill, hairpin turn, downhill
5: 4:29 22:30 downhill
6: 4:34 27:03 downhill, hairpin turn, uphill
7: 4:35 31:38 uphill
8: 4:38 36:16 uphill, hairpin turn, downhill
9: 4:30 40:45 downhill
10: 4:16 45:00 downhill, hairpin turn, uphill

Given the impediment of the five hairpin turns, I’m confident that I am in sub 45 minutes shape. For an almost-57- year-old, the age-graded equivalent of 45 minutes is 36:25. I think I’ll be finding it harder to internalize these extrapolations when 50 minutes becomes the new 36 minutes. According to my research this will happen in six years when I turn 63. Like most people, I find it is hard to accept the physical limitations of aging.

Quebec City, happy it’s over. A digital photo for $29.99, I’ll think about it.

As for determining my goal pace for the marathon, that is complicated and I’ll save that for a pre-marathon blog-post in the next while.

The best of times, the worst of times, still glad to be out there. Happy days!

Lynn


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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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Now we are four (runners)

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.

Wychwood barns

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.

Wychwood barns

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.

Wychwood barns

Beautiful beets

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.

Wychwood barns

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.

Peace