Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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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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The long and short of running

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Jeremy Lin jersey

Asian athletic pride

I’ve only blogged once in May due to ongoing busyness and a backlog of chores. A major highlight was Mother’s Day brunch at the InterContinental Yorkville where I received a Jeremy Lin jersey and consumed a dozen oysters among other things. Another high point was taking my parents to Auberge du Pommier for lunch as a late Mother’s Day and early Father’s day outing.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day

So I have been running long, or at least long enough for 5K training. After racing indoor track in February and March and then 5K and 10K in March and April, I felt I had reached a bit of a plateau so I took three easy weeks which coincided with my busy period. After that  I hit the track and was pleased that our track repeats were on the short side. The past three Saturdays I’ve done three decent longer runs at a faster-than-usual pace. I’ve been having trouble sleeping in the past year or so, so I’m not as eager to head out super-early on Saturdays despite the great feeling of finishing 10-18 miles by mid-morning. The body will not properly absorb training without a good supply of deep sleep.

I ran with a teammate a few weeks ago, who normally would be too fast for me but as he was recovering from the Boston marathon, sharing a run was doable. He told me that he remembered my name as the woman in the 50-54 category who was faster than him in one of his first half-marathons when he took up distance running six or seven years ago. He told me that as a young runner his benchmark had  been that he was always able to finish ahead of girls his age. So he was startled to discover that a woman ten years his senior beat him in the half-marathon.  He was also startled when I told him that his easy, recovery pace was putting me into the threshold heart rate zone as we ran.  Ah, I was so much faster then, I’m older than that now.

Another Saturday I ran with a teammate who is very new to running and has run excellent times for his category of 60-64. At our pub night a few weeks ago, I was astonished to discover that the farthest he had ever run in training was 12K. Following our conversation he ran 17K on his own and then ran 16K with me the week after.

Last Saturday a friend, who now lives in Regina dropped in to join the usual Saturday run crowd. What a treat to catch up on the run. The last time I saw him was last year when he lived in Ottawa. We had breakfast at the Chateau Laurier which is perhaps more of a treat than a hard 13. 5 miles run. I was having a hard time sleeping and woke that morning at 4:30 a.m. I left for the run at 7:00 a.m. It felt fairly hard and I was bagged when I got home, taking a cat nap shortly after. In the afternoon I napped from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. My recipe for a sound sleep – wake early, run hard, nap . . . hmm.  There must be a better drug-free way to deep sleep.

One reason why the run felt hard was that on Thursday I had a great track work out of 8 x 300 meters. I ran the final 300 in 56 seconds! Not bad for an aging racehorse. I’m gearing up to run a couple of 5K’s in June.  I think I’ve got the speed honed and will concentrate on speed-endurance for the next couple of weeks. I’ve started back to my weight lifting routine and as is always the case upon returning to this routine of a few decades, it feels great to flex those muscles. My goal for this training cycle is to go under 21 minutes. Weather will be a factor as I do not run well in the heat so cross your fingers for cool June mornings.

Due to lack of photos of the above, I leave you with photos of what fuels all this activity 🙂

Sea bass and best Brussels sprouts ever! 

Eggs Benny and oysters for Mother’s Day

Our twenty-something roommate cooks for us

Classic dessert mille-feuille, deconstructed à la Oliver & Bonacini


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Let the wild rumpus begin!

After three years of enjoying empty-nester style New Year’s Eve getaways, we decided on something completely different. Three years ago we spent a few days in Chicago. Two years ago we attended opera’s greatest hits at Roy Thomson Hall and stayed at the King Edward Hotel and last year we partied at a friends place in the Beach and stayed at a nearby B & B on Balsam avenue. This year we opted for an evening with two nephews and a niece ages nine, seven and five, which included an outing to see the Muppet movie.

Party of Four

All was going well until I began to experience some ominous tummy rumblings and subsequent symptoms of food poisoning. My husband did not seem entirely sympathetic when I announced during our pizza dinner while viewing “Where the Wild Things Are” that I just had to go to bed. It was then that the wild rumpus really began, for my husband at least. I slept for several hours and gathered the energy to rise just before 1 a.m. just as the Pirates of the Caribbean was ending, to wish the still-awake 9 year old and my husband Happy New Year and then crawled back to sleep.

I woke in the morning after a long but very shallow and disrupted period of sleep with just enough energy to cook pancakes for breakfast and spend a bit of time with our lively crew of youngsters. After their departure we attended mass but I had trouble staying awake and spent most of what remained of the day sleeping. It is the one day of the year that I make a point of running and I think this may be the first New Year’s day in 31 years that I have missed a run.

Thus in the first two days of 2012 I have spent more hours asleep than awake, I’ve not yet run and my diet has been confined to ginger ale, apple juice, plain chips, a few pancakes and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

This gave rise to thoughts of how lucky I am to be nornally blessed with such good health and resolutions to remember that each and every day and remember those who are ill. One of the reasons I run is that like Emerson, I do feel that on this earth our “first wealth IS health”!

Wishing you health and wellness in 2012!

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

(3 John 2)



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Christmas Greetings

Best wishes and blessings to all! My last post about our trip to Stratford, Ontario was written from Edmonton while visiting my husband’s dad for a few days. The difficulty when you are busy, busy, and fall behind with blogging is that it is hard to know where to start. Over the next while, I’ll have to forgo the immediacy of a linear narrative in order to catch up.

While I may not be blogging much, I’m always be aiming to run every day with the odd exception. In the past, one exception has been days of early morning travel (leaving house at 7:30 a.m. or earlier) as I give myself a “pass” upon reaching the destination. On our trip to Edmonton I surprised myself by bounding out the door an hour or so after arrival for an easy, shake-off-the-jet-lag two miler. I enjoyed four memorable runs while in Edmonton which I will blog about shortly.

In the past 12 days I have cooked for four parties, two here and two in Edmonton. I crowned myself Queen of my father-in-law’s kitchen due to the three meals and batch of cookies I baked while there. On returning to Toronto I cooked dinner for 16 on Thursday, a farewell gathering for a workmate and then hosted our family dinner for 11 adults and 10 kids on Christmas day. I cooked the turkey, stuffing and provided cookies and an appetizers while three siblings (I have five) and my parents provided all else. There is a at least one very good cook in every family so this works very well for our clan.

Candy cane cookies, a favourite

Once a year, we splurge on eating out to celebrate our son’s birthday. We were all well-pleased with our Asian fusion meal at Lee’s on King street last week. We were especially impressed with the grilled tofu.

Birthday dinner at Lee's Restaurant

As for the weekly mileage tally, I hit the 40 mile mark two weeks ago but last week I had to cut back as I have been fighting a scritchy throat. It was disappointing to cut back my planned 12 miler to 6 miles last Saturday but perhaps today is the day, that things turn around. I usually wake between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. but slept in past 8:30 a.m. this morning and I’m hoping that “sleep, the wonder drug” will have worked its magic. We normally attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve but opted for 9 a.m. mass this year in order to maximize the benefits of regular sleep routines. I have to confess that I enjoyed not having to fight off drowsiness at Midnight Mass. Wishing you all peace, joy and good health!

What child is this?

Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let Him-whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend-be our companion”               

Henri Nouwen


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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


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What’s up with Lynn?

Forget-me-nots & anemones

Forget-me-nots & anemones

While on the way out the door for my run, my husband told me he had checked my blog three times yesterday.  “What’s up with Lynn?”  he asked, in reference to the absence of new posts.  I found this funny and flattering, in that being a think-out-loud kind of person he definitely knows what is on my mind.  But, the written word does offer another perspective  and as we continue our journey of couplehood we’ve  discovered that writing is a preferred communication medium for my husband.

We are part of a unique sharing group.  It is a couples/marriage sharing group and it has a distinct format.  One couple does a presentation on whatever relationship topic they they like and then they pose a question related to that topic.   The couples disperse to separate rooms or areas and then each person writes a letter to their spouse for 10 minutes.   Then spouses read each others letter twice and then discuss the letters, starting with the letter which contains the strongest emotions.  The discussion is 10 minutes long.

Each letter has to begin with telling your spouse what their most endearing quality was for the day, week, month and so on.  There are also guidelines as to how to express your feelings, as just that, rather than as blame.

Then everyone regroups and we “share” our thoughts and if desired, the contents of our letter.  It is a totally enriching experience to learn from each other and to spend time this way with couples who are highly motivated to “dwell deep”.  The ranges of ages for the nine couples in our group is mid-thirties to early-seventies.

Plant from neighbour

Transplanted from the abundance of a neighbour's garden

To partially answer the question of what’s up, I ran about 14 miles on this absolutely gorgeous day but is was a struggle.  I’ve never felt quite so dead legged as I did today, parting company with my friends to walk and run the final four miles home.  About 400 meters from home I realized why the fatigue.  Blame it on the garden.  Thursday was a GARDEN-RUN-GARDEN duathlon and I am feeling the after-effects now.  The garden is also the reason why I am getting so irregular with the blog.  Although, our gardens, front and back are very modest in size.  A number of our neighbours have incredible gardens they have been tending for decades which overflow with plant material, from which I have inherited a few specimens.

Better go plant those dahlia bulbs . . . ciao!

These dahlias may grow as big as a saucer, I'm told.


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The Boston Marathon, a Run For All Reasons

The running of the Boston Marathon is fertile ground for stories to inspire, but most would be hard put to find one more compelling than that of Team Hoyt.  Rick Hoyt has cerebral palsy and the medical advice given to his parents on his birth was that he should be institutionalized, as there was no hope that he would have a “normal” life.  Nonetheless, his parents treated him like an ordinary child and with the help of a computer device Rick was eventually able to communicate to his family, his passion for sports.

Thus it was that Dick Hoyt began to enter charity runs and compete while pushing Rick in a wheelchair.  A source of much enjoyment, the pair began entering marathons and from there, progressed to triathlons. For the swim, Dick would tow Rick in a tiny boat and for the cycling portion would carry him on the front of his bike.  As of 2008, they had completed 229 triathlons and 66 marathons, often finishing in the top 10% of the field with a marathon personal best of 2 hours 40 minutes and 47 seconds.  A time, which is 3o minutes under the qualifying time for Open Men in the Boston Marathon.

In 2009 the duo completed their 27th Boston Marathon, Rick was 47 and Dick was 68 – sending a message to the world to include rather than exclude those with disabilities from activities that most of us have the good fortune to easily be a part of.

Never, ever give up! What does that mean to you?