Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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My umpteenth fifteen mile run

Doing a long run on the weekend is a deeply ingrained habit for me. If I were to run for fitness only, my routine would be something like this: Run an hour a day for five days of the week, run 2 to 2 1/2 hours once a week and 40-60 minutes the day after the long run.

After my 15 1/2 mile run today, I tried to guesstimate how many times I have run 15 miles or more in my 31 years of running. I can safely say that I have run 15 miles or more at least 1000 times.

The most important day of the week for good weather is the day of the long run.  I was disappointed by the forecast of wind and rain. Boo!! When I woke this morning I checked the weather forecast and it showed that appearance of rain was slightly delayed. I left the house at 7:30 a.m. hoping upon hope for a further delay to the rain. Taking the 30K easterly wind into account, I planned a run along the lake heading west and then a trek north through a forested area by the Humber River.

Near mouth of the south Humber river, CN tower in top left

The lakeshore section was a breeze, with the tailwind. Near Sunnybrook pool I was overtaken by one of my husband’s work colleagues and we enjoyed a pleasant mile together. I considered running back east with him but his plan was to walk for a bit every 2K so with the wind-in-your-face factor added to this, I stuck to my plan. I continued on, heading north along the Humber river path. I find this path a bit creepy as there are not as many people running or walking here as there are on the lakeshore. A couple of decades ago I was passed by a “flasher” riding a bicycle. Since then I’ve been careful to run here only during peak weekend hours and indeed I ran by three runners in the short creepy stretch.

While running this route I realized that I had not run this way for nearly a dozen years. Thus, when I got to the trail-head, I realized that I couldn’t quite remember how this path connects with the other section of the path that goes through the north Humber. I tried to guess and went up one wrong street but thanks to the GPS on my BlackBerry was able to find the path entrance.

A big- time memory awaited me as it was on this section of the path that I became aware of the existence of a then-35-year-old-runner who is now my husband of over 26 years. I was running with a group which included my husband’s coach at the time who said, “There goes a fine young man!” just as this fine young man pulled away from the main group in following his instructions to pick up the pace at the end of his long run. Note to then-29 year-old runner self: fine young man, hmm . . .  Incidentally, he was preparing for the Detroit marathon which he ran in 2 hours and 36 minutes.

Ginger Hammer a carrot juice boost from Booster Juice

In exiting the park, I got a bit lost again before I hit Bloor street where I made a beeline east all the way home. Well, actually not quite a beeline as I stopped at Booster Juice for a Ginger Hammer which has fresh squeezed carrot and apple juice and a bit of ginger. One of the best ways you can spend 167 calories, delicious and so nutritious. I also dipped into a stamp and scrapbooking store to see if they had a paper punch in the shape of a cherry blossom. No luck so it looks like I will have to order this on EBay. This has to do with my gala planning. The committee member from last year who took care of decorations has been ill so I’ve added decorating to my task list.

From: The Flirty Guide CLICK PHOTO to see more . . .

I felt quite strong in spite of having the wind in my face. Once home, I checked my route at gmaps-pedometer  and was pleased to see that getting lost had added 1.5 miles to my route for a 15 1/2 mile total. If I run 5 1/2 miles tomorrow I’ll end up with a weekly total of 55 miles.  With speedwork on Monday and Thursday I’m patting myself on the back for a solid week of training.

Well, better go check out EBay. If only I could remember my username and password.  So many miles to run, too many passwords to remember.


Running in the Winter Rain

It wasn’t until I took a hot shower a couple of hours after my run this morning that I warmed up.  Brrr . . .  winter rain, nothing like it.  Rainy weather in the transition months of March and November can make for some miserable runs.

So what to wear on days like this?  There is a big difference between running more than an hour in this weather.  After an hour or so water repellency and even waterproof  Gore-Tex begins to break down.  The temperature upon leaving home at 7 a.m. was +3C with a 9K southerly wind.

Gore-Tex membrane under an electron microscope. Size of islands about 10µm.

This was my cold rain gear of choice:  ball cap, long-sleeve wicking top, Gore-Tex jacket, 3/4 capri tights under single-layer warm-pants, ankle socks and Gore-Tex mittens.  This was comfortable enough for the first rainy hour but eventually my mitts were soaked and I had to head back into the south wind and my hands got so cold that I could barely manage to unzip my pocket to find my key.

As I write this my husband reminds me that I rushed into the bedroom this morning, waking him with the news, that “It’s a mess out there!” He says I’m losing my nerve for facing the elements.  And, he’s probably right.  I think my diminishing resolve is due in part to the absence of a solid spring running goal but I’m working on that. I sent an email to my Saturday run pals warning them that I may only run half of what I had planned.  In the end, I ran 10 miles, four miles short of the pre-rain plan.

My reward for 10 miles in the rain was a bowl of Canadian Colada Oatmeal a tribute to my favourite Booster Juice smoothie, The Canadian Colada.  I wonder if anyone has ever made oatmeal with coconut milk, pineapple bits and shredded coconut, topped with maple syrup, pecans and cow’s milk?  It wasn’t bad but I think I have some work to do on the proportion of ingredients.

As for Booster Juice, three cheers and hip, hip, hooray and a carrot juice toast.  Booster Juice has agreed to be one of the People4Kids gala sponsors!

Canadian Colada Oatmeal


Mecca for Snow Weary Runners

High on Denali, with Peaks of Mt. Hunter (I think) in Sight

Some deal with extreme weather better than others.  Here is a photo of my nephew while on a spectacular snowy adventure, climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America.  As mentioned a couple of days ago, I did not fully appreciate the enormity of the feat until seeing a documentary on the topic.  Kudos!

My son suggested that his cousin did not want to “crush my dreams” when I made my naive inquiries about trying this myself to which he politely replied, “It is a very technical climb”.

As for two Toronto runners, visiting Edmonton during a time which has the locals saying they can’t remember having this much snow, we escaped the chill with a third trip to Servus Place to run indoors.   The drive there bore some similarities to a bobsled event, as we made our way through snow-packed, icy roads that seemed more like snowy channels with snow piled high, all round and well past car height.

I choose to run on the 250 meter indoor track rather than the treadmill.  I had run on this track once before, a couple of summers back, barefoot.  The track was deserted, making it easy to give barefoot running a try.  Today, I realized upon setting foot on the track, that while too busy to run barefoot, it was to be a far better indoor running experience than the treadmill.

The track is larger, by 50 meters, than any of the indoor tracks in Toronto such as York University and the University of Toronto.  Running around the fourth, outside lane. six laps will get you just over a mile at Servus Place.  Apart from the Louis Riel indoor track in Ottawa, this is as good as it gets for indoor tracks.


Legs come alive on Servus Place 250 meter track.

And thanks to the synergy of all the runners and walkers about, I did my six miles at a brisker than-planned-for pace.  Fun!

For the third day, I stopped by Booster Juice for my post-run treat. Today I ordered my favourite smoothie, the Canadian Colada, a blend of pineapple, coconut, bananas, peaches and vanilla frozen yogurt.

All said and done, I agree with Rachel Carson who said,  “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” to which my mountaineering nephew can attest, I’m sure.  However I’ll add that the marvels of an outstanding indoor recreational facility in -26C weather has inspired this snow-weary runner to think of Servus Place, as the 8th man-made wonder of the world.

Post-run Reward, a Canadian Colada

To your health! A carrot juice toast.

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Life at Minus 26 Celsius

Our flight to Edmonton was comfortable and passed quickly with a bit of napping and inroads made into The Sea Lady, the sixth or seventh Margaret Drabble book I’ve read which after 120 pages, seems well worthy of the praises sung on its covers.  The  long drive from the airport to the suburb of St. Albert was another story.

The Edmonton area has been hit with record snowfalls lately, along with very low temperatures making for treacherous road conditions.  Shortly after leaving the airport we saw several vehicles in ditches, including an overturned jeep.  Along the way, we spotted numerous abandoned vehicles.   Later we were told the likelihood of securing tow truck services during this spell of bad weather is very low.  Tough going but an evening peppered with my father-in-law’s stories of prairie life on the farm, pre-depression certainly gave us an it-could-be-worse perspective.

View From an Edmonton Parking Lot


As is our habit while here, we had our coffee and then drove to the Servus Centre for a morning work-out.  Upon arrival we noticed that it was the busiest we have seen it and discovered that it was the second day of  The Continental Cup, a world-class curling tournament featuring competition between the best teams from North America and the best in the world.

Curlcast coverage included this news item.  “Andrea Schoepp doesn’t have the use of a bicycle during the Continental Cup at the Servus Credit Union Place this week.  If she did, the current world women’s curling champion skip claims she’s be riding from the hotel to the arena and back every day, and never mind the minus-20 temperatures or the ice-bound streets.  “Oh yes,” she was saying this week, “you don’t have it cold here. This is great weather. Definitely not too cold for biking.”

Um, well, I beg to differ.  Sounds foolhardy and life threatening.  Is this bravado the equivalent of curler’s “trash talk”?

As my husband was about to hand over our entrance fee, I interjected excitedly, “Hey look, YOU are a senior!”.  As the attendant reworked the total, he joked that he was disappointed that she did not ask him to show his I.D.  Said I, “I don’t think that is the first time she’s heard that joke”.  At this juncture my observation may not have been wholly appreciated.

I ran six miles on the treadmill, did upper and lower body weights and was pleased to see that they had the sled style leg press machine. You should definitely have a trainer in your gym show you how to use this machine and if a novice, should start out with no weights. The lock and unlock feature on this machine varies a great deal so be careful if you are using a new machine. The demonstration below is a good one.

I also do ankle raises on this machine by positioning the balls of my feet at the bottom of the machine and flexing the ankles up and down. You don’t unlock the machine for this as the range of movement does not require unlocking and to do so would put you in a vulnerable and dangerous position.

View of My Feet in Position for Ankle Raises on Leg Press at Servus Centre

Workout done, I stopped by Booster Juice for a Ginger Hammer, a mix of apple, carrot and ginger juice as an appetizer to a regular outing during our Edmonton visits, a trip to Ricky’s restaurant. My usual choice is one of my indulgences, like my love of poutine, one of four Big Breakfast choices called the Perogy & Egg Platter which includes; 3 eggs, 7 perogies and Bavarian or Chorizo sausage and toast.

Perogy & Egg Big Breakfast

With the 1 p.m. timing of our breakfast, I devoured this treat with gusto, save for two perogys and 1/2 an egg.  Certainly, not the basis of a healthy lifestyle but a reasonable twice-a-year meal for an omnivorous runner with no family history of heart disease.  And there is something to be said for insulating layers of fat when living at minus 26 Celsius.

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Winter Wonderland, Here We Come

This week has been busy, beginning with an early morning trip to Kitchener-Waterloo to pick up our ailing son at the Grand River Hospital Emergency room.  He was suffering from a severe flu-like, sore throat infection which was not strep throat.  So he has been home to recuperate.  Our roommate Alain has returned to school in an IT program and we enjoyed hearing about his first week of classes.

Blogging at Pearson Airport in My MEC Thermal Hoodie

And my husband and I arrived at Pearson Airport around 8 a.m. today, heading to Edmonton to visit his 95 year old father who is able to live independently.  Current temperatures in Edmonton are -23C so most of my running will be done indoors.  Happily, there is a absolutely fabulous recreation centre close by, the Servus Centre which resembles an indoor village with hockey rinks, basketball courts, pool with fabulous waterplay areas, a large indoor track and treadmills a-plenty.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

The treadmills have a built-in fan, a unique feature in my treadmilling experience.  Although they do not have the downhill option, that I once enjoyed at the downtown YMCA in Ottawa.  That would be helpful for those training for the Boston marathon.

After a Servus Centre work-out, we enjoy a post-workout treat, at the Booster Juice located in the grand foyer.  My favourite is the Canadian Colada.

In spite of our 7:30 a.m. departure, I did run this morning, 25 minutes on the treadmill, to loosen up before getting chained to a seat for a few hours.  Torontonians rejoice, -11C, you have nothing to fear.

One Man's Footwear Choice for Minus 23C