Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Run, Shower, Bike, Work, Bike

Welcome to my daily routine. I’m not training for a duathlon but I’ve taken to cycling across town to work whenever possible.  The trip is about 4 miles each way. The trip is made easier because I can use two major roads with bike lanes, Harbord Street and Sherbourne Street.

I recall hearing about a new bike lane in the works for Sherbourne street but it didn’t have much meaning for me as I have always been a west-ender who rarely strayed east of Yonge street. But now I point myself in the direction of Queen and Sumach five days a week and get to use this barely-six-week old bike thoroughfare. The lane is well-marked and raised, with a curb in spots and a slope in others.  The ride south is a blast as there is a pronounced but gradual downhill grade. Whee!

Best bike lane in town!

Best bike lane in town!

I’m a big fan of Portland, Oregon which has great infrastructure for cycling and many artistic and design flourishes paying homage to the bike, however I’ve never seen a lot of people actually cycling there. Or at least not to the degree that we Torontonians bike.

Bike art at Burnside and 13th avenue, Portland OR

Bike art at Burnside & 13th avenue,Portland OR

Outside of Powell’s Books (my favourite bookstore in the whole world) is a book-themed bike rack. But can you imagine a bike rack outside a bookstore in Toronto with empty parking spots? Of course, Portland is about 20% the size of the GTA but still it seems surprising in such a bike-friendly city.

Bike rack outside Powell's books

Bike rack outside Powell’s books

My first day of cycling to work was the day of the flood. I had to make a three hour stopover at the Eaton Centre where I bought a rain poncho, had a very bad dinner of curried Pad Thai and waited out the storm.

But I am in the groove now and getting cycle-fit which is helping my running in that I feel looser than I have for awhile even though I am running more miles than I have in months. I hit 40 miles this past week.

I found out that there is a shower in our office down the street which will give me the option to rearrange my run, shower, bike, work, bike routine to bike, work, run, shower, work, bike.  When I get to my peak mileage I’ll have to cut out the bike part some days and to run, shower, work, run, shower. Ah, the joys of Making It All Work *. I can’t imagine what a triathlete’s day looks like, with an extra shower or two thrown into the mix, followed by a lot of laundry.

* This is on my top ten list of time management books.


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I run because . . .

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

Running the ramparts in Quebec City (August 2012)

Today is National Running Day, a day to tell family and friends why you run. I run most every day except when recovering from a marathon or resting up for a big race. I started running in 1980 and ran my first marathon in 1981. Here are a few of my reasons for running although the longer I run, the more reasons I find, which includes all the great friends I have made through the years and the husband I met in 1985.

I run for physical and mental health!
It’s the easiest way to stay fit and a sure antidote for stress release. Things always look better after a run. If I had to break down the benefits to me personally, I’d estimate that the balance is heavily tipped on the side of mental health.

I run because it is accessible!
Is there anyone physically capable of running, who has not done so? With no equipment required, it is a sport where talent can shine, even in the poorest of countries.* This means the talent pool of the world is mobilized, making running THE most competitive sport in the world.

I run because I enjoy competition!
If you are able to run, you have likely also raced, be it on a track or to catch a bus. You can compete with yourself, others or a machine.

I run because I can!
The longer I run, the more resonant this becomes. I remind myself daily of all those who cannot run. This includes my husband for whom the occasional 5K run is a rare treat because of a torn meniscus. And my sister-in-law, very recently diagnosed with cancer in her spine and now immobile. Plus my friend Hassan who triumphed by walking 5K last fall with the crutches he needs due to the effects of polio. The courage of those who face physical challenges and cannot run motivates and inspires me.

Happy Running Day!

* See Maria Mutola’s story

My hero Hassan!


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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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Two Deserts, Two Views

The ferry to the Sudan

We’ve left the high ground of Santa Fe and are back in Phoenix. I’m hoping the lower altitude will help me shake the nasty cold that became full-blown after a tough 5 miles at 7000 feet in Santa Fe leaving me grounded at altitude for two days. It seemed wise to reserve my oxygen intake, lessened by over 20% for getting well. My plan to race today was quashed and I will be thrilled if I can run 3 miles today comfortably as the run of barely two miles yesterday was a run-walk effort. This was partly due to running on trails with my ankle is feeling nearly 100% it is hard to stay away from the Sonora desert trails of South Mountain Park which is right in our backyard. My husband saw a coyote hanging out back yesterday while later in the day a coyote was spotted on the street in front of our nephew’s house. Although we are told that the critter to watch out for is the javelina a type of wild pig.

Room in Aswan with view of the Nile

Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque, view of the freeway

I was excited to check Twitter and find that Bev Coburn @activeage posted a number of photos from the Sudan on Twitter. I also received this email:

We will be arriving in Addis late afternoon on February 20th and will have a full rest day on the 21st.  The Communications Director for the tour is going to try to join me on the visit to the orphanage. I will make sure we get lots of pictures. I will let you know in the next couple of weeks all the details of our campsite where we will be in Addis.

The tour so far has been a lot of fun and full of adrenaline rushes – many surprises along the way including kids ambushing us in a small town in Egypt.

Every day gets better.  We are now in northern Sudan – the ancient city of Dongola. The Nubian people are so friendly.

Talk soon,
Bev

I wonder if Bev might be able to meet the nine year old girl we sponsor when she visits the orphanage. One of the unique things about this sponsorship program is that the parameters of the relationship between sponsor and child are more flexible than other programs. Reasons for this may be the relatively small size of the program along with the strong relationships between Ethiopians in Canada and those in Ethiopia. The People to People AID Organization Canada program coordinator will be in Addis when Bev passes through. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at about 7500 feet above sea level is a few hundred feet higher than Santa Fe so it will be a hard ride to get there.

Trail running in South Mountain Park

Meanwhile after a ferry ride to the Sudan, Bev seems to have spent a night in a hotel where she was looking forward to washing the sand out of her hair. Their average pace per day is 120K. While cycling the length of Africa seems astonishing I should mention that Bev’s past as an elite Ironman triathlete and posting national best age-group times as a triathlete and runner is a good starting point for taking on this challenge. Here’s a quote from a talk that Bev gave a few years ago.

What is a good GOAL? A good GOAL is one that you are 85% sure you can accomplish. Personally, I love a GOOD, LOFTY GOAL!

 


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A Tale of Two Deserts

I wish I could claim to be a hardy traveler but truth be known, I’m not particularly adventurous. In some ways, I think that my inclinations to comfort and order help to make me a good marathoner. When I was running my best, I was exceptionally good at sticking to a plan and recognizing the training benefits of regular sleep schedules and eating habits as aids to top performance.

Running in Santa Fe, NM

We breezed through the desert city of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday where we stayed at The Andaluz a recently restored and now state historic building and are now in another desert town, Santa Fe enjoying the amenities of the Hotel St. Francis. From this comfortable vantage point in the North American desert I’ve been checking on the progress of my super-hero, athlete-friend Beverley Coburn.

Bev at the start line, Giza, Egypt

Bev is also traveling through the desert however she is sleeping in a small pup tent and making her way on a bicycle. She is on a four month cycling trip which started on January 14th which will take her from Cairo to Capetown.

1 star accommodations in Egypt

Bev is raising funds for the orphan sponsorship program run by People to People AID Organization Canada.  This is the orphan sponsorship program that my husband and I support as volunteer Co-chairs and organizers of the People4Kids Gala which will take place this year on Thursday, May 3rd at the ROM. If this is the type of cause you are interested in supporting  you can CLICK HERE to make a donation to her ride. Here are a couple of photos from the farewell party we held for Bev earlier this month.

Chair of P2P Canada, Bev, Lynn & P2P Board member

You can follow her progress through the Tour D’Afrique blog or on Twitter @activeage or @People4Kids. She has cycled through Egypt and is now cycling through the Sudan. GO BEV GO!

“Then tell the Wind and Fire where to stop, but don’t tell me.” (Dickens, Tale of Two Cities)

Farewell cake


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Haines, Sweet Haines

A regal, eagle welcome

This little town on the Lynn Canal, a fjord in Alaska, is bypassed by cruise ships, save for one day a week, Wednesday, when a single ship docks.

I was introduced to Haines by virtue of taking part in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay  which starts in Haines Junction, Yukon and ends in Haines, Alaska for a total of 148.1 miles.  I did a 20 mile leg with very modest elevation changes.  Whilst others had their work cut out for them, biking past the treeline as the temperature dropped accordingly.  The race ends in the Fort Seward compound, which affords a stunning view of mountain and sea.  That weekend the town was bursting at the seams with people and energy as the combination of the adrenalin high and the perfect weather in this northern haven was euphoric.  As a finale a fish fry in conjunction with the awards ceremony was held in the Fort Seward square.

View from Captain's Choice Patio, just steps from our room

My visit this year was my sixth to Alaska and my fourth to Haines but the very first visit with my husband.   Returning to Haines with him, was the most anticipated moment of our trip.  The ferry ride there was idyllic as described in a previous post, Where a Whale Was.

One of my must-do-one-day items (I’m not fond of the expression “bucket list”) is to visit Haines in November to witness the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world.  My last visit was in September and bald eagles could be spotted in threes and fours, regularly.  We saw one bald eagle in Juneau but I was a bit disappointed not to have seen more. Shortly after we got off the ferry and while waiting for our motel shuttle-car a bald eagle obliged my eagle-seeking-eyes and landed on atop the highest point on the ferry.

Fettucine with smoked salmon, fuel for the morning run

I was very keen to revisit a restaurant, the name of which I was uncertain but guessed to be Fireweed Restaurant.  There I had enjoyed the most delicious plate of pasta with pesto sauce in a most laid-back setting with a gorgeous view.  As we chatted with our driver from the Captain’s Choice Motel  my description of a restaurant called Fireweed seemed to match reality and we were driven straight there.

Does it get any better than dinner at the Fireweed?

How to describe the feeling I had in entering the Fireweed Restaurant.  There seemed to be a pause in the action as we entered, a quick glance to see what category of northern species we were; cruise people, who missed their boat, locals, adventurous youth, or rambunctious Whitehorse youngsters?  I’m guessing that we were sized up as Canadians from Whitehorse.  But, it was a curious rather than an intrusive pause and I imagined that there was a mutual meeting of hearts and minds in recognition that here we all are in this most cozy of restaurants, in a tiny northern paradise with a world class view.  None of us wishing to be elsewhere.

Sweet and timeless dreams start here.


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Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer

Since football is in the air, I thought to recall the book Instant Reply which I read when I was 13.  I have never been a football fan and just found out two minutes ago that that the Green Bay Packers are contesting the Super Bowl this year when my husband called me upstairs to view the half-time show.   I was however an avid baseball and hockey fan and loved (and still love) to read biographies and autobiographies.

Around this time I was a weekly volunteer at the local library and I began to read my way through the biography section, which included, Fire Wagon Hockey:The Story of the Montreal Canadiens, biographies of Sandy Koufax, Roger Crozier and Bobby Hull, and Ball Four a controversial book which came to be “considered one of the most important sports books ever written.” according to Wikipedia.  Other bios I remember reading then were of Ghandi, Martin Luther, Madame Curie, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Louis Pasteur & Joan of Arc.  This reading predilection fits with my Meyers-Briggs, people-person personality type.

Here is a description of Instant Replay from Amazon.com

“In 1967, when Jerry Kramer was a thirty-one-year-old Green Bay Packers offensive lineman, in his tenth year with the team, he decided to keep a diary of the season. “Perhaps, by setting down my daily thoughts and observations,” he wrote, “I’ll be able to understand precisely what it is that draws me back to professional football.” Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of pro football, culminating with the legendary championship game against Dallas now known as the “Ice Bowl,” in which Kramer would play a central role . Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley, calls it “to this day, the best inside account of pro football, indeed the best book ever written about that sport and that league.”

This groundbreaking look inside the world of professional football is one of the first books ever to take readers into the locker room and reveal the inner workings of a professional sports franchise. He also offers a rare and insightful view of the team’s storied leader, Coach Vince Lombardi.

Bringing the book back into print for the first time in more than a decade, this new edition of Instant Replay retains the classic look of the original and includes a foreword by Jonathan Yardley and additional rarely seen photos from the celebrated “Lombardi era.”

Gee, this sounds compelling (well for a sports book at least) maybe I should reread and perhaps this is a good Valentine’s gift for a football fan?   As for runner biographies, I would recommend Running with the Legends:  Training and Racing Insights from 21 Great Runners by Michael Sandrock, the book is as described and will not disappoint.  Complete with sample training schedules, the most important insight gained will be that there is no formula.  This panorama of athletic experience will convince you that, once you have a solid understanding of the basic physiology of training, trusting your own instincts, is what it is all about.  Your own way, also involves the self-knowledge to determine psychological fit with workout types. More generally applied, self-knowledge will also enable you to determine what sport or fitness activity suits your physiological and psychological profile.

As for my love of biographies, these days I’m more likely to be reading about writers and political figures although I did enjoy Lance Armstrong’s, Every Second Counts a few years ago.  At the moment I’m reading a short biography of Lord Byron written by Edna O’Brien.  More out of interest in the biographer, than the subject.  Edna O’Brien has written an excellent biography of James Joyce which both my husband and I read after a trip to Ireland.

A couple of all-time favourites are  Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela and Maggie Siggon’s, Louis Riel, A Life of Revolution.

“There is properly no history; only biography” Ralph Waldo Emerson