Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

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Blogging Jogger gets Freshly Pressed

Last summer I took a course in blogging at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University).  It is a qualifying course towards a Digital Media Certificate offered by the Continuing Education department.  I’ve also taken a digital photography course, InDesign and am thinking about taking an Introduction to Adobe Illustrator.  Mind, Motion and Matter came to be on August 7th, 2010 a few days before  final assignment was due, the assignment, start a blog. The first comment on my blog was from my son.


Photo of OCAD University courtesy of Invest in Toronto

Our instructor, Greg J. Smith provided lots of social commentary on blogging and social media as well as the mechanics of starting a blog.  His blog is called: Serial Consign, Digital Culture & Information Design. WordPress, was his recommended blogging platform.  He also addressed concerns that exist about Facebook and privacy issues and said that he had disabled his Facebook site, due in part to the paucity of meaningful discourse that typified his Facebook experience.

I decided to disable my rarely used Facebook site but was thwarted because I had changed email addresses since signing up and with no access to that email address, Facebook told me it could not be disabled. Food for thought, no?

In spite of this I have come to accept that Facebook is a “fact of life” and am working towards figuring out how to use it in small doses and make wise use of the different privacy settings.  And of course, this time round, I’ll have a back up email address to avoid losing control over my Facebook web presence.  I’m sure if push came to shove something could be done but who has the time to pursue this kind of on-line bureaucracy?!  Irksome to say the least.

Last Tuesday, I got the email below, telling me that I was part of an elite group of bloggers.  I was Freshly Pressed!  Comments and “Likes” began pouring in and by the end of the day I had surpassed my previous record for hits by almost 2000.  The following day, I had over 1000 hits and had tripled my number of subscribers.  What a wild ride!

Freshly Pressed

Freshly Pressed Congrats Email

To be Freshly Pressed means that your blog is one of 10-11 blogs featured on the WordPress home page where it says, “The best of 363,479 bloggers, 404,519 new posts, 403,358 comments, & 103,896,794 words posted today on WordPress.com.”  The post accorded this distinction was titled: I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken.  Which is exactly what I said to my husband when I stepped on the scale for the first time after our 11 day holiday.  I had attributed the unusual amount of flesh around my belly to be caused by not sticking to my planking routine as my daily runs keep my weight quite consistent.

I learned a lot about blogging by the kind, funny and inquisitive comments I received as a result of being Freshly Pressed.  Prior to this, I had not given much thought to the Freshly Pressed concept, other than wondering in passing whether having a photo that lends itself to the narrow horizontal space allotted to each featured blog increased your chances of getting featured.

But now, my bar graph stats are hard to interpret at-a-glance, as compared to the big day, and the day after.  Subsequent and previous days show up as tiny slivers.  Back to reality and I do confess that I find myself a little self-conscious about my posts with so many new subscribers.  Hello, hello . . . and thank you!

On the run today, the blogging jogger tried a new method of carrying her point and shoot camera.  I clipped a small case to the back of my running skirt and there placed my camera.  I won’t go into the details but while making a pit stop my camera fell out of the case and into the toilet and it no longer works. Sad, and costly.

Is the description of this little mishap material for another winning blog post title?

Ciao . . .

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Who has felt the wind?

With the rise in temperature, I guessed that a modest southeasterly head wind would not prove overly challenging.  So off, I went down for a 9 mile run with 3 miles along the lake.  I forgot how bitterly cold the wind coming off the frigid lake and ice can be.  My fingers were never colder this winter, than after taking my mitts off to take photos.

Can you see the wind?

My 1 minute sprints were taxing and midway, while waiting for a green light the thought of quitting trying to run fast times went off like a tiny bell rung by a more sensible me.  Aargh, ugh, egads . . . that was hard.  I don’t mind feeling spent if I’ve run pushed my body to the max, but fighting the elements is just frustrating.  I suppose it is about mental training but it is just darn hard to run fast in the cold.  I staggered into the locker room at the Y, decided to skip the planned weight work out and headed home.  WINTER, I’m officially fed up with you!

This swan was hoping I had food.

Later in the day my spirits improved as I made my way to my last photography class at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).  The evening sun, boding spring and then a quick pre-class trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario where things were really hopping.  I checked out the sales at the gift shop and noticed a cordoned line-up to see artist-writer Shary Boyle.  The foyer of the gallery was quite full of visitors taking advantage of free Wednesday night admission.  Ah, Toronto, the 4th best city in the world to live.   Although, still lots of room to improve, as noted in the United Way newsletter we received today, highlighting the impact of the recession, Vertical Poverty (poverty by postal code).

Shary Boyle at the AGO

So an outing to arts central Toronto cheers me up and I spot this poster at OCAD that gives me pause to consider options other than that of winter running into headwinds.

What is your idea of fun?


Seen On & After the Run

I was eager to run to the lake to see the effect of warm temperatures on the ice.  The ice formations yesterday had an eerily, compelling, euw quality, similar to photos of blood platelets.

Blood doping platelets

I imagined that the ice would have an even more pronounced, rounded circular appearance. However today’s ice was not as dramatically shaped as I expected.

In the final mile of my 7 mile run, I stopped in at LIT Espresso Bar to pick up some Bolivian Buenavista coffee. I told the baristas that I have mentioned Stumptown coffee and LIT on my blog and gave them my blog address.  One of the baristas is a musician who runs.  We chatted briefly about running in snow with Yak Trax and what type of coffee my cafe owner-architect brother uses at the Baked Cafe in Whitehorse.

Stumptown Coffee from LIT Espresso Bar

It was a busy day as I had to prepare and print two photos for my photography class and demonstrate the use of various  Adobe Photoshop techniques.  Before my class I stopped at a long-time favourite concession stand, Sakura in Village By the Grange which serves homestyle Japanese cooking.  I had a large bowl of Japanese chicken noodle soup for $4.00, tax included.

Heart with a bell

Afterward, I dropped into the gift shop at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and picked up a belated Valentine’s gift for my husband and little something for my father-in-law who will turn 95 on February 24th.  A very long line-up was forming outside the gallery as the doors were about to open for the AGO’s free night.

I was a bit early for my class so I had a quick look at the student exhibit of human figure art. All this activity left me feeling somewhat young at heart, like the art student I was, several decades past, rather than the middle-aged mom, marathon runner of the present.

Check out the sampling of some of the Ontario College of Art (OCAD) student work below. I’ve tried to keep loosely to the running theme, which was not that difficult given the subject is the human body.

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Winter Running by the Lake

My total miles run for last week was 60 and about 48-50 of those miles were run outside.  While there were some cold days, the wind has been relatively tame making runs by Lake Ontario quite pleasant.

I was pleased to find the Empire Sandy, a tall ship landmark at Spadina Quay in spring, summer and fall, docked nearby at Queen’s Quay.  I also enjoyed the outdoor art near the pond, now skating rink,  just outside Queen’s Quay.

The Empire Sandy, Docked for the Winter


Today I was drawn to run outside because of the wonderful blue sky.  It was however necessary to get into full winter gear to stay warm, a key item is the facewarmer.  These items are described in two previous posts, Winter Running Gear Accessories and Winter Running Gear: Base, Middle & Outer Layers.  It’s hard to pick out in the photo below but I am wearing a  vented-bandana-style face protector made by Seirus which was bought at Dick’s in the U.S.  You may find one of this particular style at a store specializing in snowboarding gear but specialty running stores like New Balance Toronto and Mountain Equipment Co-op usually have the plain black styles in stock.

Cold, but too blue to stay inside.


Just East of Ontario Place

Here are photos from the outdoor art display near the Power Plant by Harbourfront Centre east of Queen’s Quay.

Harbourfront Outdoor Photo Exhibit

More Outdoor Art

Now that I am taking a photography course, I’ve become acutely aware of the limitations of my mini-camera.  However, I just can’t see myself running with the Nikon SLR camera lent to me by my son.  Even if I did not mind the weight, I’m sure the movement would not be good for the camera.  The instructor will be showing us how to take shots of fast moving objects.  I asked her whether that would apply to the opposite situation, when the photographer is the fast moving object.  She said we will cover that later.  Here is a photo I took for my course with a few painterly touches courtesy of PhotoShop, which I am learning to use.  I think I’ll call it Alley Series: #1 🙂


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The Running Photographer

Taking my camera with me on my daily runs has injected a new and big element of fun to my running, even when I’m doing a treadmill run, as you’ll know if you read my blog a few days back.

I started this blog as an outcome of taking a course at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) on The Art of Blogging (and social media).  I am about to start a second course on digital photography.  An exciting aspect of this second course is that it will be held in the main building rather than in the less glamorous annex facility across the street where my blogging course took place.  This is one of those love-it or hate-it structures and I am on the love side, from the outside at least.  Soon I’ll get the inside scoop.

Ontario College of Art and Design - Toronto, Canada

A funny thing about aging is that as the years go by you sometimes forget about past lives, so to speak. When I bought my point and shoot camera this summer, a Canon, I thought of myself as something of a novice. How could I forget that in my early twenties, I was considered an up and coming avant-garde photographer in my small world of fine-arts at Concordia University.  I had also  forgotten that when I first moved to Toronto decades ago, I used to develop photos in the darkroom at OCAD.

Artist - Previous Incarnation, a Few Decades Ago

I once googled myself and was surprised to see a reference to an exhibit at Optica Gallery in Montreal where I was part of a four-person exhibit of young artists. I found this description of my photos which I cannot remember writing  perhaps it was the curator who wrote this. . . . takes photographs of things from her immediate environment to which she is attracted in every possible sense.

Now I’ll take a moment here to do a mini-lecture to the young, to whom, the idea of how much one might, can or will change through the years is elusive.  My advice is to be careful how you present yourself on-line because you may live to regret the social media trail you’ve blazed and recorded for posterity or notoriety.  Never say never.

On the topic of running and photography, my friend John is a marvelous photographer and all-round-great-guy who runs and has started a blog!  I can’t tell you how many memorable running moments he has captured on film.  CLICK HERE to get to John’s blog.  The impetus for his blog is a one-year job posting in Hong Kong. Lucky fella!

So back to the running . . . today I ran just over 8 miles on the treadmill with 5 x 5 minute sections at tempo pace, did upper and lower body weights and did not take any photos of what was on the treadmill TV 🙂

The bottom line . . . the more reasons you have to run or exercise, the more you’ll stick to it.  This year, I discovered a new one – photography.

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Photo finish

Taking photos of runners is not easy.  One of my favourite photos was taken by a friend who had his wife positioned 50 meters ahead to alert him that I was about to run by.  The wisdom of this method is illustrated by this photo from the Sacramento marathon taken by my husband of where I was seconds before. He made up for the photo-less-ness with some very exuberant cheerleading.

Where I was . . .

Fortunately, there are always professionals along the course and at the finish ready to record our moments of glory, for a price. In this case, I purchased three of the digital images taken of me during the race. While $49.99 seems pricey the logistics of taking all those photos and sorting them by race number must be onerous, not the easiest way to make a buck.   Here is one of the shots of my finish.