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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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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Three cheers for Bloor Street!

People4Kids Gala

We did it! Last Wednesday we pulled off another gala at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada. It was hard work and as we were in the homestretch of organizing my husband, who was on domestic duty while I did my special events schtick, asked if he should spoon feed me, chained to the computer as I was. So we raised enough money to provide support to over 65 children orphaned by HIV-AIDS in Ethiopia. That felt great! And many thanks to our  supporters and the outstanding People4Kids Gala committee.

People to People AID Organization Canada, Board Chair, Tigist Abebe (left)

Favourite photo from 2011 Gala of my son and his girlfriend

Two doors west of the ROM is Varsity Stadium, home of my running club. The day after the gala I went for drinks with my running pals. Last year while in event-organizer mode, my training suffered greatly. This year, thanks to the regular workouts and support of my club, I ran some solid races and was awarded Athlete of the Month status for April. That felt great!

What the running club bought for the newborn twins of one of our teammates.

In between the ROM and Varsity Stadium is the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM)  and guess what! On Friday, we were there to enjoy the music of Egberto Gismonti in Koerner Hall, located in the RCM. I saw Gismonti perform about 30 years ago at the Bamboo Club (now LUSH Handmade Cosmetics). It WAS great!

Still on-the-go two nights later, just next door to the ROM

I’ll be hard pressed to pack in that much excitement into a one-block, three-day stretch again. Triple-dipping on Bloor Street . . . WooHoo Toronto!

Look up! It’s C5 at the ROM, scene of the gala – as seen from the lobby of Koerner Hall

Where we were on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday last week


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To the Bakery and Back

Christmas tree, Distillery style

With no companions for this run and so-so weather, I knew I would have to gear up mentally for my 12 miler, my longest run since the NYC marathon. Yesterday, I did my first treadmill workout due to the slushy, messy road conditions and icy sidewalks that come with precipitation when the temperature hovers around 0C.

I decided to run an unusual route in that normally I run routes with minimal pedestrian traffic but with the threat of slippery sidewalks, sticking to well-trodden routes is a necessity. My route incorporated a run along Church Street, King Street East and the Distillery District, three areas which are off our beaten path.

Art in the City

I ran east on Davenport and then down Bay street, over to Yonge, east on Wellesley and down Church Street. I was able to get a glimpse of the new Loblaws housed in Maple Leaf Gardens. I never did see a Leafs game although went to quite a few Canadiens games while growing up in Montreal. I think I’ve seen three concerts at the Gardens, Neil Young, Rush (free tickets) and Hall & Oates. I think the bulk of my mega-concert days took place in Montreal at the Forum.

Brick Street Bakery

North of Queen and Church was a striking mural and close by a large Metro grocery store. There seems to be big-time inner-city grocery wars happening. I guess that is a sign of a very liveable downtown core. As I got closer to my planned turnaround point at Trinity near Front, it dawned on me that one of my favourite pastry treats was very close-at-hand. At Trinity and Mill street in the Distillery District is the Brick Bakery. WooHoo! While I woke up this morning with the mantra “no more chocolate” reverberating in my head, I said a big YES to an eccles cake pit stop.

Eccles cake

Brick Bakery offerings

Eating eccles cake

Fueled up I began the return leg westward via the lakeshore. The stretch of the lakeshore east of Yonge street is quite dismal but it is usually quiet enough to run on the road and one of the first roads to be plowed after a snowfall. I made another pit stop at Harbourfront Centre where I was able to check out an art show featuring portraits. A portrait by Louie Palu of a 22 year old marine serving in Afghanistan was particularly compelling and I found myself saying a prayer for our troops.

The rest of the run was part of my usual six miler which always makes the time seem to go by faster. I felt comfortable and steady all the way, with energy to spare when I returned home. Energy which will be put to good use this evening as we have as guests our 5, 7 & 9 year old nephews and niece. Muppet Movie, here we come.

I am almost 100% committed to a spring goal of running a fast 5K. I’ve never really trained specifically for 5K but I think I need to do this to get some speed back. This will involve joining  a hard-training track club. Yes, you’ve heard it before, the false starts I’ve made in signing up but I think 2012 is the year that I will finally do it.

What is it that you might finally do in 2012?

Happy New Years all!

p.s. Ever since tasting my first eccles cake a few years ago, I have been meaning to bake them hence another finally-do for 2012. I got the contact info I need from the clerk to get the Brick Bakery recipe.


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Getting back to it!

I wanna get back to it, yes I do. And I don’t mean running, I mean blogging. It has been two weeks since my last blog post.

I took a full week off after running the NYC marathon on November 6th. The first week back to running went something like this;  3 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles, 1 mile (to Walmart and back on a busy day), 4 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles for a 17 mile week.

So far this week (starting Monday); I’ve run 5 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles and 4 miles and am aiming for about 35 miles. This light running has been enjoyable and strangely, my weight has dipped to lower than my ideal marathon running weight.  This made me wonder for a moment if I might have a tapeworm. A reversal of when I returned from a holiday unaware that I had gained six pounds and wondered if my bathroom scale was broken.

One of the nice things about my shorter runs is that I’ve been able to enjoy quite a few runs with my husband. He is limited to runs of about 3 miles with the osteoarthritis in his knee. Well, actually he is not supposed to run at all but you know how it is for someone like him who has been running for about four decades.

My sister, mother of a 3, 5, 7 & 9 year old making a quick getaway via Porter Air

I should mention a little about what I did in New York with my sister when I was not running the marathon. We ate well, our first meal was at a small trattoria called Il Violino in the Upper West Side. I had a meatball appetizer, ravioli and pannacotta and I can’t think of any Italian meal I’ve had in Toronto’s Little Italy area where we live to rival it. My sister’s linguine primavera was exquisite.

I'm always ready for pannacotta

On Saturday we lunched at Nobu47 an upscale Japanese restaurant. I’ve decided that upscale Japanese is the way to go when in NYC as the serene decor helps offset the busy pace of the city. On a scale of 1-5 I would give the food a 3.5 although the rock cod with miso that my sister ordered was a 4.5. Last December when I was in San Francisco after running the Sacramento marathon my husband and I enjoyed a spectacular Japanese meal at Yoshi’s.

Rock cod with miso is a winner

My favourite part of the meal was dessert, chocolate fondant cake combined with green tea ice cream. I first came to know green tea ice cream when I worked at a Japanese restaurant the summer of 1976 when the Olympics were in Montreal. I used to sneak down to the basement freezer and serve myself a scoop now and again.

All's well that ends with dessert

The pre-marathon lunch

It was a bit frustrating not to be able to throw myself totally into visiting with my sister. Because of this I am planning to take a day off next week to spend with her in downtown Toronto, visiting the AGO, lunching at LUMA and doing a bit of Christmas shopping.

A few weeks ago my sister ran the Scotiabank Toronto Watefront Half-Marathon her first in over 10 years, about 40 minutes faster she ever had. I’m hoping to convince her to try the Around the Bay 30K – my next goal!  I registered for this race a few days after returning from NYC. I’m eager to get back on the horse and ride!

p.s. Thank you to all those who sent encouraging emails after reading about the TKO.


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Happy in Haines

Future site of cubic cabin

The weather in Haines, back in early June was superb and we were told, unusually summery.  First order of the day was a run, and a destination run at that.  I’m not the only one in my family to fall in love with Haines as my Whitehorse brother, an architect, recently bought a property in Haines.  Thus  sight number one, was his lot.

Final leg up the hill, breakfast just around the corner

His lot is on the edge of this town, in the uppermost reaches so it was quite a climb to get there and a bit too steep on the downhill to really enjoy an easy stride. But, man oh man, what a view!   Then, down to the water and a run over to the Mountain Cafe, THE place for coffee in Haines. This combo healthy food store and cafe sits at the conjunction of the major roads into the town. Having verified the location of where we would breakfast, I was eager to get on with the eating and shortened my run a bit.

I do cut myself a bit of slack while on vacation particularly since my husband has had to cut back his running as my primary goal is to spend time with HIM.  I’ve also cut back on travel shopping as well, for the very same reason.

Mountain Cafe, Breakfast Burritos

The Mountain Cafe met expectations with very good breakfast burritos and local hustle and bustle.  Then we walked to Fort Seward, so named for William H. Seward who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.  The fort was decommissioned in 1947 and is now privately owned.  The original buildings now a combination of private residences, B&B’s, eateries galleries and studios.

Carrying on the Tinglit cultural traditions

Tinglit artist's supply room

Notable was the Alaskan Indian Arts centre with a gallery and studio  where we were able to informally tour the studio where totem poles are made.  To order a totem pole CLICK HERE  It was hard not to compare the quality and pricing of the work found here to the offerings of the ultra-commercialized Juneau.  Any cruise ship passenger happening upon this place would feel that they had connected to the “real” Alaska.

In the afternoon we went on a three-hour guided hike.  This was quite expensive but hikers are cautioned to travel in groups to minimize the risk of a bear attack.  I’ve heard various numbers cited for safety from parties of three to ten.  With eight in our group, including two guides, one armed with bear spray in a holster I felt safe.  Being of small stature, I’ve often thought it would be useful to have a very tall, hiking hat in the shape of some sort of menacing creature.

One of our guides, Lindy was a musician and naturalist.  She and her husband lived for years in a Yurt,  the portable, wood-framed and felt-covered dwelling of nomadic Mongolians.  Funnily enough her band played in Ottawa last year, for the Canada Day celebrations.  Lindy was able to tell when a bear had scratched its back on a tree, or whether a moose had gone by, by virtue of a few hairs left on bark or a bush.  Thankfully, she was also able to tell us that the very loud and scary sound we heard was not a mountain lion or a bear but the sound of humpbacks in the water nearby.

If it had been the two of us, in fear (or at least my fear) we could have set personal best times running back to the trail head.  Thanks to our guides we now cherish the memory of those otherworldly, sonorous and eerily musical sounds.  Sadly, we were not able to see the humpbacks through the thick forest cover but we came upon another group who were starry-eyed having seen the humpbacks play in a cove further on.  Excitedly we trekked on, hoping the whales would linger so we could enjoy the same.

Humpback whales hang out here

The word pristine was invented to describe places such as the destination cove and all those beautiful, mostly unnamed places in the north.  Wow!  The humpbacks were gone however and that was a bit disappointing.   Somewhere along the trail the topic of beer came up and this thread was eagerly pursued by our other guide.  He promised to take us to the Haines Brewing Company located in the state fairground, formerly the set of the movie White Fang.  Happily, time allowed and sampled some Spruce Tip Ale while I enjoyed a freshly brewed and delicious root beer.

Happiness is a bottle of spruce tip beer

From there we returned to the Fireweed Restaurant for dinner where we were greeted like regulars.  I wondered if this was because our two night in a row appearance set us apart from the majority of middle-aged folk who travel Alaska via cruise ship.  One of the couples on our hike were from California and they were amazed to discover that it was possible to travel down the Lynn Canal by state ferry.

The next day was our travel day to Whitehorse.  Sure wish we had more time on our hands but I know we will be back.

Haines, good for the soul