Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Winding down and eating out

All wound up as the racing season comes to a close

Dropping my mileage in preparation for my last “serious” race of the training cycle on Sunday, June 10th gave me a bit more flexibility to get out and about, and enjoy some good eats. Last Tuesday, I ran earlier than I have for a long while, leaving the house at 5:45 a.m. to run with a friend. This worked out well as I had a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting at Fran’s where I was pleased to order a breakfast favourite of mine, corn beef hash.

Fran’s corn beef hash

On Wednesday, I had a short meeting downtown to which I cycled and on the return journey to the office stopped to enjoy an excellent Korean meal of bulgogi and rice at a food vendor on Dundas, just east of Bathurst. This food stall stopover was like a “taste of Portland”, a teaser for our upcoming holiday to Portland, Oregon.

Kim’s a la Kart – Portland style vendors on Dundas east of Bathurst

Portland is famous for its street vendor food stalls, distinguishing itself from other U.S. cities with its absence of fast food venues in the downtown core. I’m reminded of another Portland food memory, the corn beef hash at Kenny and Zuke’s deli! A photo of this breakfast was part of my blog post I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken which got freshly pressed last year leading to over 2000 hits in on day one and over 1000 hits on day two.

On Thursday, I ran with a new friend from Iran who has a black belt in Judo. He is staying 2K away from Lake Ontario but had never seen the lake, so to the lake we ran. That afternoon I took my dad and son out to lunch at the Osgoode Hall Restaurant and enjoyed a very reasonably priced lunch of Arctic char.

My son and my dad at Osgoode Hall Restaurant

My dad had only been here once before for an event for the Japanese Canadian community where traditional big-sound taiko drummers performed on their mega drums. He told us that the vibrations from the pre-dinner performance loosened the accumulated century plus, dirt from the paneled wood ceiling and peppered their meals with some very aged seasoning.

Oyster Caesar

That night we belatedly celebrated our wedding anniversary at Lee’s Restaurant. I chose Thursday rather than Friday as I wanted to avoid alcohol two nights before my 5K race on Sunday. Deep sleep two nights before a race is important in order to be at your best on race day. While a glass of wine might make you sleepy, the bottom line is that it adversely affects your REM sleep. I enjoyed an oyster Caesar while my husband’s salute to me was to drink two Japanese tequilas.  The dish to order at Lee’s is Susur Lee’s signature Singaporean cole slaw which is absolutely unique, scrumptious and healthy!

Singaporean cole slaw, a must!

Race day was very warm and the sky had a smoggy hue. I opted for a warm-up routine that included a 10 minute run, 3 hours before the race start. The benefit of this early morning jog is that it loosens you up and allows you to  get a good stretch earlier on. It also helps to alleviate pre-race jitters and anxiety about getting a full warm-up in later on. While warming up on a side-street near the race start I ran into a former teammate who I had not seen for a few years and learned that his wife had died five months ago.

Shortly after this emotional moment I found myself in a stand-off with a fellow participant. A group of older (well that being my age actually) female recreational runners were positioned at the very front of the start line and it sounded like the goal for one of them was to simply finish her first 5K race. I politely mentioned the pace I was intending to run and asked if they would mind if I moved in front of them. One of the women was obviously unaware of race etiquette and let me know that they had done their “due diligence” in arriving early and based on the first-come, first-served principle of a grocery check-out  line were entitled to be at the front. I tried to explain that for the safety and enjoyment of all, race line-ups are organized by pace.  My husband says I should have just moved in front of their group rather than trying to be polite and explain. Comments?

A meal prepared for us by our son

I could feel a bit of an adrenalin rush from this exchange and mentally directed it to my race and let go of any negative thoughts. Inwardly I wished them a happy race but realized that if I were to verbalize this, they would probably think I was being sarcastic.

I ran a good steady-hard pace throughout and was satisfied with my time of 21:56 at the Toronto Challenge 5K on a muggy, hot day. The route was changed from last year and I noticed that times were much slower than 2011. One friend wondered if the course might have been long by 400 meters. It was not an ideal course to run a season’s best but psychologically it felt shorter than the many-cornered 5K I ran the week before. The course had only four turns. For me the main factors in falling short of my time were ideal racing weight, the heat and a need for more speed-endurance, tempo training. I still hope to go under 20 minutes but I can see it will take a lot of focus, along with more mileage while maintaining the quality speedwork I’ve been doing since February. With my plan to run a marathon in the fall, my fast 5K may have to wait until next spring.

A basil and tiny tomato quiche baked by me for a group of dedicated volunteers at my workplace

About that marathon – well I’m in the process of setting my goal and considering that of going under 3:30 which according to the age-graded calculator is a 2:41 open-category equivalent for someone who on October 14th, marathon day, will be two days away from turning *57*. Egads, I don’t really like the sound of that number. I’m a person who generally likes the idea of five-year plans but now that they take me to age 62 I find myself wanting to put a pause on long-term planning.

Anyhow, my winter-spring race season is finito! And it’s time to look ahead to late-summer and fall races. I’m in much better shape than I was last June so that makes me feel motivated and excited about summer training. But first there is a bit of down-time to take (no speedwork) and holiday time to enjoy.

What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.
C. S. Lewis

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1st Year Blog Anniversary – My Favourite Posts

My blog made its debut a year ago today.  Born as a final project for a course on blogging at OCAD. To celebrate, I briefly looked over the 287 posts I made over my first year and chose my favourites.  My average rate of posting per week was just over 5 posts.  Over the first few months of the year, I had aspirations to post as much as I ran and joined the WordPress postaday club.  However my commitment to organize the People4Kids fundraising gala last May 3rd took priority and my rate of posting dwindled.

Hours after finishing the CIM - Feeling good!

Since the blogging course I’ve taken digital photography, InDesign and Adobe Illustrator courses and that too has consumed much time.  So I’ve reset my sights on posting 2-four times a week. So here are my favourites, in no particular order.

The Final Mile, a State of Grace

Running the final mile of the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento last December.

Slainte

About an 8K race run prior to the CIM.

19 Miles & Moore Park Ravine

My longest run in preparation for the marathon run on one of my favourite Toronto routes.

Ready, Set . . . Bake

A day of baking for a good cause shared with a friend.

ACE-ing Portland at the NINES

Our highly enjoyable adventures in Portland, Oregon.

I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken

The post that got me Freshly Pressed with 2061 hits in one day.

Blogging Jogger Gets Freshly Pressed

My feelings on getting Freshly Pressed.

Haines, Sweet Haines

A visit to a special place in Alaska.

Happy in Haines

More about this special place.

If My Husband Had a Tatoo

A bit about my husband’s running accomplishments.

Thank you to all my subscribers and those who tell me that they enjoy reading my blog.  Your readership makes blogging fun and keeps me motivated.


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ACE-ing Portland at The NINES

Thanks to a flurry of emails from one of my four brothers, my husband and I decided to make Portland, Oregon the first stop on our Pacific Northwest tour. When I told him we had booked our flight from Toronto to Portland.  He sent me a notice of a hotel special from Hotwire and urged me to book at The NINES.  Which I did.  We were not disappointed.

The Nines Hotel, Portland

The Nines, a place for you and your honey bunny.

The Nines is located within a former mega-department store in the Meier & Frank Building.  There is still a downsized Macy’s within this landmark building but the hotel takes up floors seven and upward to the eighteenth, top floor.  The name, is a reference to the glory days of the building, “dressed to the nines” with various decorative elements reinforcing this theme.

The Nines

Rooms, all dressed up at The Nines

The price of the hotel at $129 was within five dollars of what we paid for a very basic room at one of Juneau’s top hotels shortly after. We were very “down” with that to borrow a youthful expression. The rooms were comfy and chic, the location superbly central, with the light rail transit system footsteps away and just a few blocks away from the ACE Hotel.

Ace Hotel

Coffee & good food flank the Ace Hotel

While in Portland my brother and I exchanged several text messages via Blackberry messenger, including one where he asked if I loved the lobby of the ACE Hotel as much as he did.  Just off the lobby is a Stumptown Coffee Roasters Cafe, so when you get your coffee there, you can then hang out in the ACE Hotel lobby.

ACE Hotel Lobby

Casual Corner at the ACE Hotel

What did I love about the lobby?  Was it the offhand chic, and truly casual atmosphere where you felt perfectly comfortable rearranging the modular sofa to your needs.  Perhaps that comfort level was an offshoot of the duct tape repairs on the immense coffee table with cactii and succulents as the centerpiece.  Lining the passage to the lobby were to-the-ceiling bookshelves and in the lobby itself were bikes for hire and an icon of instant photography, a vintage four shot, photo booth.

Ace Hotel

Duct tape detailing carries the day

I held back on professing love, mainly because I wondered if we, who seemed to always be the oldest pair “in the house” were entitled to “love” the place.  The creative and hip ambience had me wondering if the Drake Hotel and the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto drew inspiration from the ACE.

While the Drake is far more “sheeshy” or “chi chi” and self-consciously arty it is not quite as inviting and cozy.  We stayed at the Drake Hotel one night, even though it is only one mile from our home just a couple of blocks off my running route.  We were the successful bidders on an overnight stay there at a silent auction fundraiser for our local YMCA.  The room by the way, was a lesson in good, functional design and the food at the Drake is always terrific, with fried chicken on buttermilk pancakes a pleasant brunch memory.

Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel

Stumptown coffee at the ACE, yes, I love it!

As for the coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters is acknowledged as giving Portland the edge over Seattle as best coffee town in North America. In Canada, Stumptown is only available at two LIT Espresso bars in Toronto. One of the locations is a few blocks from us and our attention was drawn to the Stumptown difference and our good fortune in our proximity to LIT by the same brother who directed us to visit the lobby of the ACE Hotel.

In comparison, the atrium style lobby of  The Nines is of mammoth proportions, with a restaurant, pool room and several seating areas. I never made it to the fitness area but my husband reported that the treadmills had a screen where you could view a visual of a track. We also never made it to the highly recommended Asian inspired, rooftop restaurant.  You know there’s a lot going on in your hotel when you don’t have time to enjoy or even peek at all its amenities. And there is so much to do in this city with Powell’s the world’s largest, independent, used and new bookstore, a fabulous weekend market, fresh and unique take-out food in abundance at the many street vendors and easy access to running routes by the river.

Willamette River Walk, Portland Oregon

Nothing beats a river path for reducing the risk of losing your way while on a run.

p.s.  We don’t normally travel with a stuffed rabbit.  The one pictured in this post was purchased as a gift at the Japanese garden in Washington Park.


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Sleepy in Seattle

Rhododendren House in Portland, Oregon

Yes, we have a stopover at the Seattle airport, enroute to Juneau and are a little weary although the day got off to an energetic start. Shortly after rising I left for the the first leg of my run. The flat river route seems to be the preferred route for the Portlanese. One side is eclipsed by the closeness of the highway to the river but a path has been created a little offshore to offset this abomination of urban planning.

Off shore running path

I ran 4Km solo, returning to the hotel to pick up my husband for the second leg, a much hillier route up by Washington park. Talking about “real estate”, the view and vegetation was magnifico, well worth the huffing and puffing to climb the steep hillside terrain.  The photo below may bear some resemblance to the Glen Road bridge in Rosedale, Toronto however that is due to the shortcomings of my camera.  By comparison, the depth of colour and density of the foliage in Portland makes even the most treed areas of Toronto look wanting

Running up that hill!

The greens surpassed those of Ireland in the fall although I’ve yet to experience an Irish spring.  Where there is greeness, there is rain and lots of moss. Check out the concrete benches lining the sidewalks of this older section of town.

Moss park bench

The properties are so gorgeous that it seems owners feel compelled to name them. Thus, you have The Rhododendron House, which incidentally was for sale.

A bit of rest after a hard climb

Gamely, my husband agreed to run with me for this third day straight. With his knee trouble it has been avoiding running consecutive days but he says his knee is “okay”.

House on the hill

The most risky aspect of this run, knee-wise was the steep return downhill. I advised him to walk down the steepest sections. Hopefully, this tourist-trotting won’t aggravate his tender meniscus as we are heading up to “rave run” territory and our shared runs are always a highlight of any vacation.

Run for the view


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Pitching Portland

Japanese garden, Washington park

Until recently, I had a vague notion that I might like to visit Eugene, Oregon one day being a famous runner’s city but Portland was just a name.  I asked my brother who lives in the Yukon whether he thought we would enjoy visiting Anchorage, Alaska and I received a flurry of emails detailing the wonders of Portland.  We spoke on the phone and he assured me that I would love it and if I didn’t love it, he would give me my money back.

Early morning hang-out, THE NINES lobby

And that is how we ended up sipping coffee in the lobby of the ultra-hip THE NINES hotel.  My brother sent me a Hotwire alert that was offering rooms at THE NINES for nearly half price.  The same price as what we will pay for a very modest rooms in Juneau and Haines in Alaska and where the internet will probably not be free.  So we arrived mid-afternoon on Thursday and fly to Juneau, late Sunday afternoon through Seattle, touching down in Juneau around the time the sun will set.

In pitching Portland to me, Jack described the city as being very Lynn-esque.  Hmm, my husband and I have been mulling this one over, and he says, “Well, not my Lynn particularly.”  The key elements, I think are a bike, runner friendly place with great coffee and bookstores, extensive public transit and casual outdoorsy feel.  But, the birthplace of grunge and a skateboarders haven, not really.  I’m definitely into low-risk sports and if pressed, would have to name jazz as my favourite music.  On the other hand I was a huge fan of Patti Smith when in art school and her bio was the top seller at Powell Books, which is a far better showing than on the NYT best seller list.

So, so good . . . going back for more.

Highlights so far have been; Powell Books, which far outstrips the Strand in New York City, the Japanese gardens in Washington Park, the amazing light rail transit, Stumptown coffee at the ACE Hotel and the best cheese blintzes ever at Kenny and Zuke’s deli just a door away from the ACE Hotel.

A time to blog and a time to RUN!

So much to do, and so much to report but I have a run to get in so gotta go . . . adios!


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Postcard from Portland

Wish you were here and hope the young men minding the homestead have good weather for barbequing.  Hoping the rain here will let up a bit to allow a dry run tomorrow.  It was raining when we left Toronto, pouring at our stopover in Calgary and then when we arrived in Portland, letting up about an hour ago.

Was up at 4:15 a.m. Toronto time.  Thank goodness that we are in the hometown of Stumptown Coffee . . . ole!

Staying awake in Portland