Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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New Years Lessons and Resolutions

Alan Brookes of the Canada Running Series retweeted the article New Years Lessons and Resolutions from Canadian Runners with the question, How about YOU? This blog post is my reply to the questions asked in that article.

Oh, where oh where would we older folks run track without OMA

Oh, where oh where would we older folks run track without the OMA

What did you learn in 2013 that you want to apply to your training in 2014

The importance of maintaining good leg turnover. I’ve known this intellectually for most of my 30+ years of running but training with the UTTC Masters track team with coach Paul Osland, an Olympian,  has provided the tools to make this a part of my training routine. Even though I have been running fewer miles since the Ontario cross-country championships last November, I’ve been able to maintain my cruising pace, which has quickened thanks to regular track workouts.

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Super-fast coach Paul

What was a great moment that you will remember about 2013?

That is a difficult choice. But I’m going to say being chosen Ontario Masters Athlete of the month for February by Ontario Masters Athletics (OMA). This gives me the chance to highlight the fantastic support masters runners and track athletes get in Ontario.  I was recognized for having broken the Canadian indoor 5K record twice at this rarely-raced distance.
Doug Smith checks out Doug Smith trophy at U of T Athletic Center

Doug Smith checks out Doug Smith trophy at U of T Athletic Center

The remarkable thing to me is the dedication of long-time volunteers like Doug Smith (President of the OMA) who create the opportunity to race and break records. Doug Smith who with his self-deprecating sense of humour, does an amazing job of making everyone feel welcome whether to the OMA or to UTTC Masters on top of just about everything else including meet organizing, race photos and website maintenance. There are many dedicated volunteers who helps as timers, registrars, lap-timers, record-keepers, cheerleaders and more, including Stafford who emailed me a nice certificate to commemorate the 5K record. Paul Osland our high-functioning Olympian coach, is in his third term as President of the CMA, following in Doug’s footsteps as an extraordinary volunteer. On behalf of all masters runners in Ontario. Thank you all!
The University of Toronto Track Club (UTTC) has recently fully embraced the Masters concept and the UTTC Masters have been warmly welcomed to the main club. A huge benefit is sharing the indoor track and outdoor track at Varsity Stadium.
What goals do you have for 2014?

In order of priority:

  1. Help UTTC Masters team win the Breslin Cup.
  2. Increase my age-graded score for the outdoor 1500 at the Ontario Masters Provincial Track and Field Championships
  3. Increase my age-graded score for 5k on the road.
  4. Run faster than last year at the Boston Marathon.

Two resolutions: one running resolution and a non-running one?

Get back to regular weight work. When I was in top form I was able to legpress 250 lbs. and squat 135 lbs. I can probably only do about 60-65% of that now. Remain ever-grateful for the good heath that allows me to keep training so I can get slower gracefully.

Keep mentally fit. One aspect of this is to keep up to date with all things digital. This is made easier with my great in-house tutor, son Steven, a recent U of T, comp-sci grad. He knows how much time I spend at home and at work on the computer so to celebrate his first job as a software developer, he surprised me with a Christmas gift of a Yoga Pro 2 laptop. He told me this will increase my productivity. Weighing in at 3.1 pounds with a 13.1″ by 8.6″ high resolution screen, perhaps this highly-portable laptop means I should set my sights higher than my two posts a month. I’m not about to make promises I can’t keep but we shall see!

Lean, mean blogging machine
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16 weeks to the Boston Marathon

I needed the reminder that arrived via FaceBook that the countdown to Boston has begun and the B.A.A. has training programs for the beginner or intermediate and advanced level. I’ve been delaying my return to training but did make it out tonight for an indoor track workout with my team the UTTC Masters.  These two things signalled that I can say today is the day, that my marathon training kicks-off.

I’ve been running fewer miles since the cross-country season ended in mid-November but my regular cruising pace has improved. This, thanks to a marathon-less fall and a focus on shorter distance training for indoor and outdoor track and cross-country races from 4K to 8K.

I was happy with my workout of 4 x 1200 with a two-minute recovery. I got progressively faster with 4:30. 4:18, 4:15 & 4:12. I felt good about the final fast one, as I had planned to do just 3 of the repeats.

I’m planning to get my marathon mileage in by doing a lot of doubles, to and from work. This will nicely  sandwich my very sedentary job at which I roll around my office from computer to printer to filing cabinet on my chair.

A teammate and I chatted about the extraordinary cost of hotels in Boston this year. The place I booked, is now $200 higher than when I booked a couple of months ago. My son the software developer has alerted me to the fact that just the act of “viewing” hotel websites can drive the cost up.

I’m planning to devote a future blog post to all the stuff one needs (or at least I feel I need) to be ready for any type of weather for the Boston marathon. One aspect of this is the fine-art of staying comfortable in the athlete’s village for 2-3 hours while waiting for the marathon start. A key item is shown at the top centre of the photo below. The camp chair is guaranteed to make you feel like a king or queen of the athlete’s village. I took this photo last year to remind myself of all the clothing combos needed and to start looking early at Value Village for suitable “throwaway clothing”.

So there is the training and there is the gear and then there will be much contemplation of why I will be running Boston despite being on the verge of semi-retirement from the marathon.  As the day draws nearer, and the runs get longer, I expect the emotions for all those training for the big day, will deepen, and the reasons why I feel compelled to go back one more time, will become more clear.

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Gifts for your favourite runner

Picking out gear for runners is not easy as the bigger items are somewhat technical and your favourite runners might prefer to make their own choices.

Choosing useful accessories is a much easier route to go. Here are some favourite items that have stood my personal 32 year, test of time and trendiness.

Foot roller

As I write my foot is resting on my foot roller. The simple foot roller picture above above is the most durable. The type with moving parts may eventually fall apart. I took mine on our vacation in September and left it behind, I replaced it shortly after.

foot roller

Smart Wool socks & Fox River socks

Nothing worse than socks that don’t fit properly. Most of my socks have some wool in them as I’ve found it to be the best wicking material of all. Strangely, the pair of Smart Wool socks that I bought from MEC that were specifically for running were unsatisfactory. But the regular line is fabulous and I wear some of the heavier styles for running. MEC sells Fox River socks. The biggest selection of Smart Wool socks I’ve seen in Toronto is at the Australian Boot Company. But the price points are high here in Canada and the selection extremely limited. Essential Apparel ships from the U.S. for a reasonable price and I just noticed that SportChek has a buy one, get one at 50% sale at the moment.

I travel with Smart Wool socks to wear while running and while walking. How much do I love great socks? My screen seems to be filled with images of socks and more socks!

smart wool 2

The Stick

I don’t use this often but there is nothing like this self-massager for loosening up some hard to stretch areas like the IT band and the outside shins.

Buff Multi-functional Headgear

I bought this years ago in Whitehorse, YK. So handy, so versatile and nice selection of patterns too. I mainly use it as neck warmer.

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Amphipod

Perfect solution for shorts or pants without pockets. The Amphipod has a clip to fasten to the outside or inside or your pants or anywhere actually. It’s also a great little wallet.

Amphipod

Japanese Self-massage thingy

I don’t know what this is called but I bought it at our local Japanese grocery store and it has lasted for nearly a decade, despite the rigours of back massage and more. It recently broke and I am scrambling to find a replacement. The item below is the closest thing I’ve found to my broken back massager.

bongers


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Three tips to find time to run

November was a busy one. And we are just coming upon what is sometimes referred to as the “season of busy” which can make it hard to get our runs in.

Slow cooker

Tip # One
Buy a slow cooker

For much of my adult life I have been meaning to try out slow-cooking. Driven by one of the busier months of my life, I finally got around to ordering one. To determine which one to buy I consulted this popular blog on slow-cooking. And of coures, to save time, I ordered the slow-cooker on-line. I would estimate that I saved 2-3 hours this past week thanks to my slow-cooker.

Tip # Two
Run to and/or from work

Being a daily runner, I know I WILL run so using my running time to get to work saves me at least 45 minutes. In my case it is also so much easier to hit the road knowing that running is much faster than the cross-town transit options and a $3.00 saving each way.

Tip # Three
Do chores, shopping and window shopping on the run

This really works well for small and /or lightweight items. Swiss army knives are a great gift for many people that can be easily picked up while on a run. Gift certificates to Mountain Equipment Coop are another. I do a lot of on-line ordering but sometimes you really do want to see an item, hence window shopping while running makes perfect sense. The new practise of looking at items in a store and then ordering (often at better prices) is called “showrooming”.

Trips to the bank and post-office are also good candidates for doing-while-running. Especially if you can time your visits to be at low-traffic hours. Get thee to the post office early! Running with a hip-pack or back-pack is not that bad. It certainly beats missing a run. I’ve got my eye on some hip packs including this Patagonia Hip Pack

Hip pack

I’m an admitted time-management book junkie. Hence I got a chuckle out of something a former workmate had this on posted on her bulletin board:
“Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”

 

 


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The Boston Marathon, be prepared

The Canadian fall marathon season peaked at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with the stunning performance of Lanni Marchant who set a new Canadian record of 2:28:00 for the marathon. The former record of 2:28:36 has been famously held by the humble and unassuming Sylvia Ruegger for 27 years. Ruegger at times has seemed almost embarrased for the record to have stood for so long and was at the finish line to greet Marchant.

My fall season will not include a marathon for the first time in 3 years. With the sharp decline in my marathon performance, in relative terms, I have decided to run fewer marathons, with a focus on running a marathon mainly as a celebration of a significant birthday. Last fall I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, in 2011 it was NYC and the year before, the California International Marathon in Sacramento. I have my eye on the Marine Corps Marathon as the stage for my next big birthday celebration.  An exception to this general marathon reduction scheme is the 2014 Boston Marathon. Like most who ran last year, returning in 2014 feels necessary in bringing a sense of closure to the 2013 experience.

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This is where it all begins

My fall has been about cross-country running and after November 16th, when the final race of the Ontario Masters Cross-Country Series takes place, my training will be focused on the Boston Marathon.  The first step to being prepared for Boston 2014 it seems, is finding a centrally located Boston hotel that is less than $400 a night. Prices seem to have jumped more than 50% from last spring. Advice to those training for Boston is to make your hotel reservation ASAP.

Earlier this fall we passed through Boston on our way to Cape Cod and could not resist taking the exit to Hopkinton.  We had some fun checking out a few start line attractions that one might not see while while lining up for the race with a cast of 30,000.

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The town of Hopkinton’s motto is “It All Starts Here” and the motto is captured in a bronze life-size statue of George V. Brown the legendary starter of the Boston Marathon for over 30 years. We also enjoyed the newly erected statue of my heroes Dick and Rick Hoyt who I met at the Boston Marathon Race Expo last spring. While viewing the statue a woman walked by and told us that her last name was Hoyt but while she was not related to the famous Hoyts, she wished she were.  The Hoyts were mentioned in President Barack Obama’s speech at the Interfaith Service after the Boston Marathon tragedy.

“In the words of Dick Hoyt, who has pushed his disabled son Rick in 31 Boston marathons, we can’t let something like this stop us. This doesn’t stop us.  And that’s what you’ve taught us, Boston. That’s what you’ve reminded us, to push on, to persevere, to not grow weary, to not get faint even when it hurts.”

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I’ll be thinking about Dick and Rick Hoyt when I run up Heartbreak Hill in the spring.

Yes we can!

Plaque-Hoyt


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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)


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Running the Railpath

I took part in this innovative run last year but regrettably cannot do so this year. Info for the run is below and you can check out the prizes they’ve been gathering on the event FaceBook site. Here a link to my blog post about the Railpath Community Run from last year titled A Tale of Three 10K’s .

Railpath Community Run 2013

Start: September 29 2013 08:30 -11:30 am

Info for the Railpath Community Run website:

To celebrate the West Toronto Railpath, and promote health within our communities we’ll be hosting the 2nd Annual Community Run on September 29th, 2013 on the West Toronto Railpath. Our charitable partner for the event is The Stop Community Food Centre.

This event has a unique format that differentiates it from other local running events. Instead of a set distance (such as 5km), this is a timed lap-based event. In 45 minutes, participants will complete as many laps of the 2.1 km stretch as possible.

This is great to practice your speed-work as a competitive runner, or not be overwhelmed by needing to complete a big distance as a new runner or casual walker. There is something for everyone, and you decide what that is for you! Registration is available online here.

Our tentative schedule of the day’s events are as follows:

  • 8:30 – 9:00 – Support tents open / Racer information table open
  • 9:00 – 9:15 – Kick Off
  • 9:15 – 10:00 – Wave 1 (Competitive Runners)
  • 10:00 – 10:30 – Wave 1 Prizes & Staging for Wave 2
  • 10:05 – 10:20 – Post-Run Yoga by You Defined
  • 10:30 – 11:15 – Wave 2 (Walkers & Casual Runners)
  • 11:15 – 11:30 – Wave 2 Prizes & Close

We are planning on having lots of great prizes for our participants. Prizes will be award for top finishers and random draw prizes, so both competitive and fun run/walk participants are eligible.

This event was a huge hit last year and for a great cause so come out and participate !!!!