Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Packing my bag for the Boston Marathon | Part 1 – REVISED

Shortly after writing the following blog post, I learned of all the changes to what can be taken to the Athlete’s Village. Much of what runners were able to take to the Athlete’s Village is no longer allowed due to increased security as outlined HERE.

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2013 The walk from the Athlete’s Village, past the baggage trucks to the start corrals

I’m sure glad I took the photo below, last year, when I arrived in Boston for the marathon. It is my visual checklist for everything I’ll need this year. This will save me a lot of time, and I am really time-crunched at present, which explains the blogless month of February. I have a gala to organize for April 30th, coursework to finish mid-April and a marathon to train for.

To ensure that I had all bases covered for race-day gear, I created a spreadsheet for all possible permuations and combinations of weather conditions. For today, my focus is on the items that you might not have on hand. 

Ready for any weather

Ready for any weather

1) I’m feeling quite pleased for having already picked up my waiting-in-Hopkinton camp stool. As I did last year, I bought it at Canadian Tire for $7.99. You’ll see many camping chairs on sale along Boylston street. They are not just for spectators but for runners who wish to pass their time in the Athlete’s village in greater comfort. I’ve never found lying on a damp bed of newspapers for a couple of hours to be the best way to get psyched for the run.

Camp Stool
PRODUCT #76-1557-0
Reg. $7.99

2) While you are picking up a camp stool you can also pick up an emergency rain poncho.

3) The next step is to visit a Value Village Thrift Store or similar and to pick up a cheap windjacket and windpants. Being a small person, I usually find what I need in the boys or girls section. The black Champion windpants and rust coloured windjacket (lined no less) were the results of last year’s Value Village outing.

There are baggage trucks enroute to the race corrals to take some of your personal belongings to the finish line. However I never check anything that I would be sorry to lose. And, I always like to have the option of not picking up my bag and going straight back to my hotel in case there is a long line-up. I always try and stay at a hotel within walking distance of the marathon finish line. Last year, the sound of the bomb blast was the decisive factor in not picking up my bag.

Also, it is good to have clothing to wear until minutes before the race start and after you have checked your bag. This is called throwaway clothing. Volunteers come round with bags to collect the throwaway clothing. Imagine the overhead scene as everyone ditches their throwaways.

Yesterday, I ran 30K, which is my last long run before the marathon. My recent long runs have been with my go-to Saturday run group, the Wise Guys (or if we were a team, the Philosoraptors, perhaps). Named so as they are three profs and a statistician. The head wise guy is absent from this photo taken yesterday to commemorate my Boston-training-run milestone. This was taken in a famous Toronto running route, Mt. Pleasant cemetery.

Long run companions, the wise guys

Long run companions, the wise guys

I’ll be concentrating on quality miles now and getting more rest in between those faster paced tempo runs and interval workouts. If all goes well with my recovery from the long run I plan to run 3-5 X 1200 with my team, the UTTC Masters tomorrow.

As for my bag-packing goals, I’m aiming to have my bag packed at least 2-3 days before I leave for Boston if not earlier.


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16 weeks to the Boston Marathon

I needed the reminder that arrived via FaceBook that the countdown to Boston has begun and the B.A.A. has training programs for the beginner or intermediate and advanced level. I’ve been delaying my return to training but did make it out tonight for an indoor track workout with my team the UTTC Masters.  These two things signalled that I can say today is the day, that my marathon training kicks-off.

I’ve been running fewer miles since the cross-country season ended in mid-November but my regular cruising pace has improved. This, thanks to a marathon-less fall and a focus on shorter distance training for indoor and outdoor track and cross-country races from 4K to 8K.

I was happy with my workout of 4 x 1200 with a two-minute recovery. I got progressively faster with 4:30. 4:18, 4:15 & 4:12. I felt good about the final fast one, as I had planned to do just 3 of the repeats.

I’m planning to get my marathon mileage in by doing a lot of doubles, to and from work. This will nicely  sandwich my very sedentary job at which I roll around my office from computer to printer to filing cabinet on my chair.

A teammate and I chatted about the extraordinary cost of hotels in Boston this year. The place I booked, is now $200 higher than when I booked a couple of months ago. My son the software developer has alerted me to the fact that just the act of “viewing” hotel websites can drive the cost up.

I’m planning to devote a future blog post to all the stuff one needs (or at least I feel I need) to be ready for any type of weather for the Boston marathon. One aspect of this is the fine-art of staying comfortable in the athlete’s village for 2-3 hours while waiting for the marathon start. A key item is shown at the top centre of the photo below. The camp chair is guaranteed to make you feel like a king or queen of the athlete’s village. I took this photo last year to remind myself of all the clothing combos needed and to start looking early at Value Village for suitable “throwaway clothing”.

So there is the training and there is the gear and then there will be much contemplation of why I will be running Boston despite being on the verge of semi-retirement from the marathon.  As the day draws nearer, and the runs get longer, I expect the emotions for all those training for the big day, will deepen, and the reasons why I feel compelled to go back one more time, will become more clear.

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Gifts for your favourite runner

Picking out gear for runners is not easy as the bigger items are somewhat technical and your favourite runners might prefer to make their own choices.

Choosing useful accessories is a much easier route to go. Here are some favourite items that have stood my personal 32 year, test of time and trendiness.

Foot roller

As I write my foot is resting on my foot roller. The simple foot roller picture above above is the most durable. The type with moving parts may eventually fall apart. I took mine on our vacation in September and left it behind, I replaced it shortly after.

foot roller

Smart Wool socks & Fox River socks

Nothing worse than socks that don’t fit properly. Most of my socks have some wool in them as I’ve found it to be the best wicking material of all. Strangely, the pair of Smart Wool socks that I bought from MEC that were specifically for running were unsatisfactory. But the regular line is fabulous and I wear some of the heavier styles for running. MEC sells Fox River socks. The biggest selection of Smart Wool socks I’ve seen in Toronto is at the Australian Boot Company. But the price points are high here in Canada and the selection extremely limited. Essential Apparel ships from the U.S. for a reasonable price and I just noticed that SportChek has a buy one, get one at 50% sale at the moment.

I travel with Smart Wool socks to wear while running and while walking. How much do I love great socks? My screen seems to be filled with images of socks and more socks!

smart wool 2

The Stick

I don’t use this often but there is nothing like this self-massager for loosening up some hard to stretch areas like the IT band and the outside shins.

Buff Multi-functional Headgear

I bought this years ago in Whitehorse, YK. So handy, so versatile and nice selection of patterns too. I mainly use it as neck warmer.

Buff-339-150x150

Amphipod

Perfect solution for shorts or pants without pockets. The Amphipod has a clip to fasten to the outside or inside or your pants or anywhere actually. It’s also a great little wallet.

Amphipod

Japanese Self-massage thingy

I don’t know what this is called but I bought it at our local Japanese grocery store and it has lasted for nearly a decade, despite the rigours of back massage and more. It recently broke and I am scrambling to find a replacement. The item below is the closest thing I’ve found to my broken back massager.

bongers


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Three tips to find time to run

November was a busy one. And we are just coming upon what is sometimes referred to as the “season of busy” which can make it hard to get our runs in.

Slow cooker

Tip # One
Buy a slow cooker

For much of my adult life I have been meaning to try out slow-cooking. Driven by one of the busier months of my life, I finally got around to ordering one. To determine which one to buy I consulted this popular blog on slow-cooking. And of coures, to save time, I ordered the slow-cooker on-line. I would estimate that I saved 2-3 hours this past week thanks to my slow-cooker.

Tip # Two
Run to and/or from work

Being a daily runner, I know I WILL run so using my running time to get to work saves me at least 45 minutes. In my case it is also so much easier to hit the road knowing that running is much faster than the cross-town transit options and a $3.00 saving each way.

Tip # Three
Do chores, shopping and window shopping on the run

This really works well for small and /or lightweight items. Swiss army knives are a great gift for many people that can be easily picked up while on a run. Gift certificates to Mountain Equipment Coop are another. I do a lot of on-line ordering but sometimes you really do want to see an item, hence window shopping while running makes perfect sense. The new practise of looking at items in a store and then ordering (often at better prices) is called “showrooming”.

Trips to the bank and post-office are also good candidates for doing-while-running. Especially if you can time your visits to be at low-traffic hours. Get thee to the post office early! Running with a hip-pack or back-pack is not that bad. It certainly beats missing a run. I’ve got my eye on some hip packs including this Patagonia Hip Pack

Hip pack

I’m an admitted time-management book junkie. Hence I got a chuckle out of something a former workmate had this on posted on her bulletin board:
“Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”

 

 


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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


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Winter Runs in Ottawa, The Real Thing

Canal, river & parliament buildings converge for this fabulous view from my hotel room.

I’ve returned from my slightly-less-than-two-day-getaway in Ottawa, having missed a second day of posting for 2011. My from-the-airport post was pretty meagre, so I decided against a second thin offering yesterday.

Breakfast With a View

I started my mini-holiday with a 7 a.m. breakfast with a friend, in the hotel cafe. This friend has recently moved here from Toronto and it turns out that he is living in the Lebreton Flats neighbourhood, about one block from where we lived for some of of the five years we called Ottawa home.  We became friends while part of a running club at the University of Toronto, a group that was spearheaded by incomparable coach,  Zeba Crook, then grad-student, now professor in the Religion and Philosophy department at Ottawa’s Carelton University. Unfortunately, a get together with Zeb was not to be, as he is in that very busy phase, family life with two working parents and two young kids.

Our First Ottawa Home, a Heritage House on James Street in Centretown

After having a look at the basement fitness facility in the hotel, I resolved to run outdoors as the day was especially bright and I planned a route which encompassed our two Ottawa homes, two favourite parks and the YMCA-YWCA where I used to leave my son with the babysitting service while working out, until he graduated to the nursery school.

Our second home on Elm Street was our first home purchase.

I’ve written about my winter runs in Toronto but I had forgotten how much a slog winter running in Ottawa is because of the rarely-bare sidewalks. I’ve heard a lot about Yak Trax a unique coil system that clips onto shoes and gives you traction on ice and packed now and I’ll be buying a pair of these, the next time I visit Ottawa in the winter. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. Over my abbreviated run of 5 miles, there was one measly block of clear sidewalk. I had planned to do some speedwork but had no choice but to abandon this plan.

Ran into my old friend Oscar Peterson.

During my Ottawa days there was no such thing as a treadmill at the YMCA and there was no indoor track so it was very tough to run through the winter. I remember running along the canal in -40C weather, when I was stopped by a television camera crew, waiting to interview runners brave enough (or foolish enough) to run in the cold. So there you have it, my 15 seconds of Ottawa television fame.

Dundonald Park in Centretown. Many happy times spent playing here.

As I returned to the center of town I checked out some of the Winterlude displays awaiting the weekend action. I think Winterlude now takes place over three weekends, rather than the former ten day stretch. I once took part in a Winterlude tradition, a Skate, Ski and Run Triathlon. In spite of the bad footing I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane and returned refreshed and eager to play tourist in the afternoon.

Winterlude Weekend around the corner.


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No Stranger to Snow

Having been born and raised in Montreal, childhood memories involve what seemed like mini-mountain ranges lining the streets providing great climbing opportunities for the agile and fleet of foot.  I recall going to a school in a neighbouring suburb almost two miles away however, there was a short cut through the woods that was just a mile and I would sometimes hike home, even when I had to trudge through thigh-high snow.  I had a propensity then to push myself physically, a little further, a little faster.

From the age of 12 to 16 I played Ringette, mainly on outdoor rinks and it did get cold.  I don’t remember any game cancellations due to cold, rather the opposite, when the temperature was too high to produce a reasonable ice surface.  After a couple of years, neighbouring municipalities started Ringette leagues on indoor rinks and my best ringette buddy and I joined another league.  The fun came when we ended up on the all-star teams for both towns.  We chose to play for the weaker team although I had a ball because I got to play forward, rather than my usual defence position.

In those days there was no such thing as a girls hockey league, Ringette was the adapted ice sport, suitable for girls.  The only girls who wore hockey skates then were a couple of girls who had serious hockey playing dads, the daughter of professional hockey player, Fleming McKell for instance.  The rest of us wore figure skates and we filed the toe picks off.

I started out as a goalie but did not particularly shine or enjoy the position.  My brothers used to chant this, “Lynn, Lynn she’s so thin, she always lets the ring go in”.  I was quite a fast skater and because of this my coaches always put me on defence because I had a knack for being in the right place, and could usually put on a burst of speed to get in the way of an opponent.  In ringette at that time there was a weird rule that defence players could not go into the offensive zone.  Very dull, to say the least.  I hope they’ve changed that rule.  Did you know that Canada has the highest number of ringette players, over 50,000!

Look ma, no gloves!

I enjoyed today’s marvelous sun.  I left the house in full winter gear, and ended up feeling quite overdressed.  At least one can exercise some temperature control by removing a layer on a day like this.  Which reminds me of when my son was in grade school and I would run by the school yard to make sure he was dressed properly on the really cold days, finding him at times playing in the schoolyard, having ditched his jacket.

I dread those stifling hot, muggy days of summer.  Down by the lake, sun shining, winter white seems . . . quite alright.