Trail running

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I had a downtown group run plan, but when a few people bowed out, JW and I decided to change the plan: we’d run the Brickworks trail instead, as he’s never done it. We met at Broadview station and headed out. JW had new shoes and I’m still easing back into things, so we took our time. The evening was perfect for running: sunny and warm, but not too warm.

We meandered through the trails and ended up behind the Brickworks, pathways I’ve walked but never ran. Eventually, we turned around and headed out to finish the Moore Ravine trail, then head back.

Then something happened to JW’s knee. It was subtle, but it meant our run was mostly over.

Still, it was good to get out and to run with JW — we’ve never gone out just the two of us. And the knee thing is probably related to his new orthodics and I’m hoping it’s not serious. We have a half-marathon to run in the fall, after all.



The run: 5.0k in 32:10
The route:

Wins and weak knees

Play ball! (Photo by @annebalser)

Play ball! (Photo by @annebalser)

It’s a busy week, so I wanted to start it off right. I got up early this morning and got a quick run in. My knees hurt the entire time. They felt old and sore and creaky. Uh oh.

This is a new sensation for me. I’m used to a sore hip and my left knee hates yoga so much, but I’ve never had knee pain while running. Is it the Newtons? The fact I haven’t foam rolled since my marathon? The marathon itself? Who knows! I will keep and eye and keep you updated.

For no real reason, I declared June a “month of fun.” No self-improvement projects. No goals. Just an attempt to enjoy life and enjoy Toronto. As a result of this declaration, I have discovered two fit-related things that are changing my life. (Okay, that’s an extreme exaggeration. But they are contributing to my fun.)

1. Maple Leafs baseball

Toronto_Maple_Leafs_BaseballDid you know Toronto had a semi-pro baseball team? And that they are called the Maple Leafs? And that their games are free?! I did not, until I mentioned to a co-worker I wanted to watch some cheap baseball. Since then, Anne and I have gone to both home games and are making plans to go to all the ones we can if we are both free. It’s a great way to pass a lazy Sunday afternoon. We destroyed Hamilton, 15-2, on Sunday. It was almost sad.



2. WNBA Live Access

175px-ChicagoSkyFor $14.99, I can stream all the WNBA games I want to my computer, iPhone or iPad. There are broadcast rules — as in, if a game is on TV in your area, you can’t stream the game online — but since NOT A SINGLE GAME is aired in Canada (why does Canada hate ladies’ basketball? It’s the same problem with the NCAA tourney!), I am in the clear. I have semi-arbitrarily decided Chicago Sky is my team (they have Swin Cash, a kick ass center, a point guard with something to prove and my favourite of the “Three to See” rookies — Elena Delle Donne — and the city itself is a lot like Toronto). Delle Donne played like a 10-year vet and hit two free throws with 1.8 seconds to take home the win for the Sky, 72-70. I watched this game outside on my iPad. I love technology. I bet my neighbours didn’t love my yelling.



I also talked to my run coach, Andie, about my fall race plans. For the summer, I’m planning to run 3x a week, do yoga 2x a week and not get injured. Let’s see how I do with that plan.


What sports teams do you follow?!



The run: 5.0k in 33:04
The route:

Running on Newtons

I look terrified! I should: fitness selfies are scary! Why do people take them anyway? What purpose do they serve? I need to learn the art of images on my blog, and this is not the best submission for that!

I look terrified! I should: fitness selfies are scary! Why do people take them anyway? What purpose do they serve? I need to learn the art of images on this blog, and this is not the best submission for that!

I needed to go to the library to pick up some books that arrived for me (Through the Void! The Longest Run! A how-to on meditation!), so I decided it would be a good opportunity to do a quick and easy run to give the new Newtons a try. They feel…different. And weird. But not in a bad way. I was a lot more aware of my footfall than I’ve ever been before on this run, but I have no idea whether or not I’m running in them “correctly”. Only time will tell.

It’s gray(ish) and cold(ish) in Toronto, so I spent the afternoon reading the special Boston issue of Runner’s World (It’s really well done. I’ve cried about 5 times already and am only halfway through), then headed to the 2pm Yin-Yang class at EnergyXchange. I’m glad I got over my hatred of their website (they redesigned it, I still intensely judge all websites), because having a yoga studio 5 minutes from my house is bliss. The class itself was mediocre, but sometimes proximity trumps quality.

Have a good website. (Do what I say and not what I do, hahahaha!) It makes a world of difference.


The run: 3.5k in ??? (didn’t take my watch)
The route:

New shoes!

New shoes! I hope they make me fast!

New shoes! I hope they make me fast!

It was raining after work today and I almost didn’t go to run club. Even as I put on my running gear and got on my bike, I thought about biking past the Eaton Centre, all the way home to warm pajamas. But then I saw a group of runners out there and knew if they could do it, so could I.

We did a quick and rainy loop through downtown, nothing special. A traveller from Engand who was visiting Canada and found the runnning group online was there. I forget his name already (Dennis or Danny or Darryl) but he kept the pace quick. We were done in 30 minutes, stretched and then I went home to warm pajamas.

And my new shoes were here!

I got the Newton Motion Stability Performancer Trainer because the brand came highly recommended and this particular model was the only Newton shoe Running Free (a Canadian minimalist running store) had in my size. (I have giant feet.) I had them on briefly in the house and they feel weird. It will be interesting to see how they work out.



The run: 5.8k in 30:46
The route:

Fit Read: Running Ransom Road by Caleb Daniloff

runningransomroadCaleb Daniloff is a writer now. His work has appeared in Publisher’s Weekly and Runner’s World. He’s also a runner.

Before that, he was a drunk.

Running Ransom Road, Daniloff’s first book, traces his path from active kid in Washington, DC. to awkward teen in Moscow (his dad was a foreign correspondent) to aspiring writer and alcoholic, bouncing from Vermont to New York to Cambridge. But the strength in this book is how he does it: when he was getting sober, Daniloff took up running. First tentatively, and in secret. Eventually he becomes a marathoner and uses races to revisit the sinning grounds of his past. Each chapter is a new race — and a new chance for Daniloff to make peace with his past, while striving to run a sub-4:00 marathon.

Thanks to the geography of his life, Daniloff runs two of the biggies: Boston and New York. But he also goes small-time, to his high school’s famed pie race and to Moscow, whose marathon is little more than a repetitive loop through downtown.

I loved this book. Daniloff knows how to write about running: the strange hours; the addictive gear; the constant astoundment that, yes, there are new places you can chafe; the battleground that is one’s mind on a long run; the arbitrary but important goals we set for ourselves; the aches and pains; the joy and tears. These race recaps are some of the best I’ve ever read. But what makes this book a stand-out is how these recaps are seamlessly woven with Daniloff’s struggle with addiction and its potential sources, his difficult relationship with his father, and the struggle to maintain his relationship with his wife and stepdaughter. (Although, I could have done without the large italicized sections. But that’s a design problem, not a writing one.)

It’s a beautiful, painful, raw and honest book. Just like running can be.


I’m going for a walk in the woods

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A 220k walk, that is.

After what is probably a year of discussing and dreaming, JK and I took a big step forward in making our Cheryl Strayed-inspired dreams come true: we booked our tickets to Newfoundland.

(To be specific, JK booked them. I owe her money. Soon, JK, I promise!!)

On August 3, we are flying halfway across the country to go into the woods for two weeks. We return to Toronto on August 18. I hope we emerge alive.

I hope we emerge still friends.

The plan is to cover the 220k of the East Coast Trail on the Avalon penninsula in Newfoundland (the developed part) in 12 days. If we plan it right, we’ll hike for 10 and have two rest days at some point — hopefully in adorable seaside towns. Our planning hasn’t developed that far yet. I do want to travel to the far part of the trail and end in St. John’s, so we have a city to enjoy when we are done. This seems to be the opposite of what the maps and internets suggest. Are we wrong already?!!!

This will be my longest hike EVER. While I feel more prepared than Cheryl was (and let’s face it: that’s not hard), I’m not that prepared!

So, experienced hikers, share your secrets! What do we need to know about hiking for that long? What should we eat? What gear do we need? What gear do we think we need, but don’t? Tell us everything!!!


June teaching schedule

Spring has sprung and that means time for me to rejuvenate and teach! While I keep myself busy working away at my next Distance Learning Project – The Wheel of Life (more on this project later) – I’m teaching more and more.

So here is my June teaching schedule. In addition to my Free Yoga with Jill! (which will be taught by a fellow LA trainee for the remainder of the month), I’m teaching more community classes at Moksha Yoga Downtown. And I’m on the official MYD teaching schedule!! Those two TBA classes on the studio schedule, ya that’s me!

I’m also teaching private classes or would be more than happy to arrange something if anyone is interested. If you’re new to yoga, I can take you on 1-on-1 (not like in basketball). Or get some friends together for a class and we’ll have a grand ol’ time. I promise!

In the past month I’ve also landed a part time job at the studio, hence the cancellation of Monday June 3rd’s Free Yoga with Jill! and why Krista (thanks, Krista!) is covering my freebies Monday evenings. But, as the studio prepares for the expansion, so will I! I’m bringing Free Yoga with Jill! back for July.

Come join me in the hot room! Because I officially made it on the Big Girl Schedule!

June calendar

Yoga & Biomechanics for Runners Workshop

Thanks Alice & Kris! Photo is from ChatterRunGirl.

Thanks Alice & Kris! Photo is from ChatterRunGirl.

What: Yoga & Biomacanhics for Runners
When: Sunday, May 26th @ 12:30 p.m.
Where: Moksha Yoga Danforth (372 Danforth Ave)
Who: Kris Sheppard and Alice Toyonaga

I am really excited for summer. Like really, really excited for summer. And most of all, or most surprising, I’m excited to run! This summer I’ve decided running will be for me. 2012 will forever be remembered as my summer of hell! Okay, I’m being very dramatic here, but fundraising is not easy, and Cecilley and I did nothing but train and fundraise. Not that that was a bad thing, I did spend pretty much my whole summer with Cecilley! And met some great people along the way. Then we celebrated our hard work in California. Okay, so 2012 was not the summer of hell at all.

My goal this year is to work hard, get faster, run farther. I want to become an all round better runner. I think it’s time. The Blue Nose and Around the Bay taught me that the human body is physically capable of doing many things under pressure or stress (and with little training, I may add). Not that I want to promote this fact! If you’re running longer distances do yourself a favour and prepare. Join a clinic (like me!), hire a running coach, find a running group, or get together a group of friends to run with. It’s easier than you may think. Toronto is full of great organizations and people doing great things. Or just ask me! I’ll do the research for you!

With my new goal on the horizon of running faster and running properly, I signed up for a running workshop hosted at Moksha Yoga Danforth with Alice Toyonaga. This was an excellent place to start my summer of running. Alice (aka ChatterRunGirl) is a marathon runner, Moksha teacher, and a big inspiration and mentor of mine. Alice is so great!

Alice has been traveling from coast to coast hosting running and yoga workshops at Moksha studios all over Canada. See. This is why Alice is great! Lucky for me, and the Toronto community, Alice partnered with Dr. Kris Sheppard, a chiropractor at Absolute Endurance Training and Therapy and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, to host a yoga & biomechanics for runners. My love for Alice and my goal of running a marathon compelled me to go. Obviously.

We met at the studio strapped on our sneakers and away we went for a light 2k run to get us started. During the run Kris and Alice broke down the components of the workshop and addressed the importance of proper active recovery, which yoga can do for all athletes!

Back at the studio Kris took us through a series of exercises — lunges, squats, high knee running — to demonstrate proper running technique. Just from observation Kris can tell the type of pain you may experience, he can tell your range of motion, where you carry your weight when you run, as well as knows your foot strike. Apparently I’m a quad dominate runner with weak ankles. Kris has worked with many different clients from sprinters to long distant runners, to the everyday runner, like most of us attending the workshop. Kris, we may have to talk. But watching myself run, I can think of anything worse…

Afterward was Alice’s turn. She lead a beautiful sequence focusing on strengthening our quads and our butt muscles — something we runners really need — then we stretched everything out. Our hips, our hip flexors, this was a treat. Also in attendance was Vanessa Montenegro from Flipswitch Studio who happened to be assisting during Alice’s class. And for the first time in my life she got me to engage my glutes! I actually felt the sensation of firing up my butt. Ha! Thanks, Vanessa! After all this time you think I would have learned.

What a perfect day. The weather was incredible, but better yet the information I took in, along with the great company, made this workshop one of a kind. Thank you Alice, Kris, and Vanessa! And thanks to you too, Brent and Michelle from Moksha Yoga Danforth. I telling everyone right now to attend the next one. Keep your eye on Alice she is going great things.



The first run back

Saw this at a bookstore in Halifax. Put it on hold in Toronto. I am loving it.

Saw this at a bookstore in Halifax. Put it on hold in Toronto. I am loving it.

On June 3, two weeks and one day after running my marathon, I put on my running shoes and ran for the first time since crossing that finish line. My hip hurt a lot and I got a little lost. I ran without time or distance or pace in mind. It was disorienting. It was frustrating. It was eye-opening.

I am a runner who needs goals. Things to keep me focused and dedicated. I won’t run otherwise. I know this. So, after much contemplation about what to do next, I have decided.

Sub 2:00 at the Scotiabank Toronto Half-Marathon it is.

My upcoming hike with JK makes a late August triathlon at this point a bit insane. A wedding derailed the 12k trail run I was considering. But my friend JW (hi JW!) just signed up for his first half-marathon and I want to be there when he crosses that line. That made the decision an easy one.

I’ve got a 10k in June and want to add a 10k in July to that schedule, just to keep me focused. Then the hike, then I’ll start a reduced, but intense, training plan for the half. Then the Island Girl Relay. Then the half.

Then who knows.

Oh, I bought new shoes based on a Twitter recommendation. Newtons. I’ll let you know how they go.



The run: 4.6 in 27:06
The route: