Midnight Run & Party – ’14

10881645_10155014488460191_3014367054294267977_nAll year I’d planned on running the Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve here in Toronto. I’ve been running like a beast all year and I thought what better way to kick off the new year than to RUN full throttle into it at the stroke of midnight!

But as it grew closer, and after much deliberation, I decided I just couldn’t in good conscience justify the $95 (pre-tax) entry fee, especially since I have no desire to “party” and can’t eat or drink any of the post race offerings. Plus, given the circumstances of my year leading up to it, it simply seemed… wrong.

I contacted the organizer to see if there was a “run only” option, like the party only option, but alas, there wasn’t one.
At least not for this year. Though they were considering it for next year.

Then 2 days before the event a $20 discount in my email (via a friend of mine) I didn’t even think about it! “Seize the day!” I thought!
So what if it’s still twice the cost of a regular race!
So what if you can’t eat the food being offered at the end of the race, at least you can eat the banana! There are always bananas!
So what if you don’t want to party, at least you get a we glass of champagne at the finish line to welcome in the new year!
So what if it’s ridiculously expensive, at least you get this super cool medal at the end of it, and bragging rights.

So what if absolutely NONE of that came to fruition… *sigh*

I will not be doing this event again. For a variety of reasons.

First, running at midnight. While it was fun, and a cool way to kick off the new year, there is really no way to properly prepare yourself to run at that time.  And I really didn’t think it through. I tried to hydrate and eat properly throughout the day, but the bottom-line is instead of getting up and running after a night of restorative sleep, you are putting your body into competition mode in the middle of the night, in subzero temps, after a 16hr day of running around.
The irony is that by doing something “healthy” on New Year’s Eve, I actually felt worse than hungover the next morning! LOL!

Secondly, the event itself.
I will say this first. I think they have very good intentions, but the execution is poor, the hype misguided, and the offerings misleading.
I should have heeded some of the reviews from previous years, but they were so mixed I thought I should find out for myself.
Well, now I know better. Live and learn right?

All year they’ve been promoting the amazing swag bag with this great offering by Danceology for classes. (that mysteriously disappeared from the site a few weeks before the event)
The swag bag itself was a Vector/New Balance drawstring bag (that you see at a lot of the races, in fact I think these were from another event as I’m sure I already have one) These are handy little gizmos, which I use when I travel as shoe bags or laundry bags, so ok, that works.
But what was inside this crazy valuable bag? a bunch of flyers for other races (which drives me nuts) and some free samples of food snacks and some left over halloween candy (weird) (and again, all of which I can’t eat, so I end up giving away or putting in my outreach bag) I would rather have seen the food samples go to the Food Bank (the official charity tied into the event) Oh and we got our choice of groovy event branded gloves ($10 value) or a promotor branded toque. Since I wear a ponytail when I run, I opted for the gloves. They were festive, and layered over another pair of gloves would work well on the night.

Throughout the year they were also promoting food from a different restaurant (which I looked up on line, and figured I could possibly eat some of the food) Again, the food sponsor changed within a couple of weeks of the event to Subway. hrmmm… ok.
In fact the sponsor page has ceased to work at all for a while, leading me to believe they ran into issues behind the scenes.

Still, not seeing the $95 value yet, but maybe on race night…

Race night I arrive at the Distillery District for the race. There is nary a sign promoting the event or even directing you to the start/finish. In fact it’s sort of eerily quiet.
I feel a bit of panic, like I’m at the wrong venue. Not the usual hype pre-race of music and noise. (now of course I realize it is 11:40pm when I get there, but it is NYE, so noise shouldn’t be an issue)

It is a small crowd. Maybe a 150-200 max. From the sounds of it, the schedule has been altered/flipped, so the “costume contest” is happening post race now at the after party. The party, which should be happening now, I see no signs of.  (it would seem no one chose the party only option… perhaps the promoters should take this as a sign)
It’s stupid cold, (still not the coldest race I’ve run) but hey, that’s part of the bragging rights, and not in the control of the promoter.
I check my bag, suck it up, head to the corral and start chatting with my fellow runners. There the adrenaline kicks in, so I don’t really feel the cold other than on my face when the wind picks up.

With a countdown and a “Happy New Year!!” we are off at the stroke of midnight!
Ok,”this is cool”, I think to myself as I mentally place a check-mark on my bucket-list.

We round the first corner and the brutal wind blasts us head on, but there is our beautiful CN Tower in the distance, a large advertising sign in the foreground emblazoned with Happy New Year, and fireworks are being set off (precariously close to the end of the path where our first turn around is) It’s beautiful and exhilarating, and (and a bit scary closer you got to the explosions)  I want to stop and take a picture to capture the magic, but that would require me to expose skin to get my phone out, and that ain’t happening!!
This sadly would be the only positive highlight of my night.

Off we go into the darkness, we do a small loop, then repeat the path and do a larger loop and return. There are a variety of terrains, which was to be expected, and  a variety of lighting situations, again we’ve been warned, but this all leads to me feeling very disoriented, If you plan on doing this event yourself, it’s in your best interest to keep up with as many folks as you can or carry your own light source. There are a handful of volunteers at key points with shiny vests and flashlights directing you, provided you finished within a certain time… as the poor buggers whom I ran into on my way home and redirected to the finishline found out as they were running aimlessly in the wrong direction once the volunteers had abandoned their posts.

There were a couple of sketchy moments. Running through a parking lot on New Year’s Eve leads to a little confusion and jumping out of the way of cars trying to enter and exit. Then of course you run into the revelers along the way. All were supportive, but you still feel odd running down a dark alley towards a bunch of drunk dudes hooting and hollering.

Anyway, 5k later, I’m heading down the chute towards the finish, awkwardly placed in the alcove, between the buildings, just past the units housing the post race food and the bag check and lounge, so people are actually crossing your path, with bowls of hot soup, as you’re running towards them to finish yelling, “scuse me, pardon me, trying to finish a race here”

And here is where the whole night fell off the rails for me.

I admit it, I’m a medal whore. I love running, but I LOVE my bling.
I have actually NOT done a certain race because I didn’t like the medal.

So… imagine for a minute that for 365 days, I have been coveting THIS:
midniterunmedal

It’s the picture on the website.
It’s the medal I have held in my hand a couple of times over the season at various expos.
It’s the ONLY thing I really care about it when it comes to this particular event at this point. It’s tells the story. It’s the CN Tower, it’s the Champagne bottle, it’s the event name…
It’s the catalyst to me forking out $75+ dollars to run a 5K.

THIS is what was handed to me at the end of the race:
IMG_0250

I actually loudly, incredulously, with disgust in my voice exclaimed “THIS is the medal?!”
I seriously wanted to cry.
All of that for cheap piece of ribbon and a generic year time stamp.

Oh, and no champagne at the finish. If you wanted that, you had to go to the party.

I went in to find my banana and some water and call it a night.
No bananas, but I found a case of water on the floor by the bag check and grabbed one for the long streetcar ride home.

The party didn’t begin for another 20 mins (at a separate location) So I could sit in the “lounge” and watch everyone eat the food I couldn’t and wait, or I could just chalk it up to experience and leave.
I chose the latter.
I was tired and slightly pissed off at that point, and didn’t want to be “that” person. I think being solo also lead to feeling a little more awkward.  Although the kudo’s I got from people on my commute home made me feel better ;-)

Like I said, I get the intention of the night, and with the right execution and proper promotion, the potential is there for a spectacular event, but it’s just not working in it’s current incarnation in my humble opinion. Perhaps it needs to either be a race, or be a party. Because trying to be both doesn’t seem to be working very well at all.

I still give it a 3 out of 5, just for the hutzpah of putting on a running event in the middle of the night on NYE!

Rating: 3_star

Follow up:

The promoter of the race reached out to me personally with an explanation and for my feedback, which is very cool. We had a long chat, and there is a possibility of me getting involved behind the scenes for this years event, which is again very cool. Coolest of all, I am now the proud owner of this: (known forever forward as “my precious” ) (fwiw, I offered up the $20 I saved on registration to the food bank in exchange for swapping out the medal)
2015-01-13 19.08.31

Tannenbaum 10K

Since my Saturdays aren’t available, I had to forgo running the Santa Shuffle & the Resolution Run this year, and choose a Sunday event to close out my 2014 running season.

The only thing close, and on a Sunday, was the Tannenbaum 10K.

Did I want to do a 10K for my last hurrah? Not particularly. Especially not by myself (none of my running pals like winter running) and on a flat course.

But alas, this was all that was available to me, and well, if I’m planning on doing a half in 2015, I better start doing the longer designations asap!

I knew no matter how much I trained before hand, this was gonna be a slog. So I kept my runs to 5K max (with additional 2-4K walks tacked on to get home) and just saved myself for Sunday.

This one made me nervous. I could tell by the online chatter that this was a “runners” event. This was made evident on race morning when they all suited up in matching running club shirts, looking like gazelles. Pretty much everyone I spoke to or eavesdropped on was a marathoner. This lead me to go outside to warm up alone, as I had already defeated myself in my mind.

Luckily I met up with an awesome couple who pep talked me, and what I can only assume was the other 8 ladies in my age group who toiled at the back of the pack with me.

So… with expectations as low as possible (I fully expected them to be collecting the course markers behind me as I dragged my carcass to the finish line) I set some goals for myself.
1) Finish. Just finish. Simple.
2) Run your own race.
3) Try pacing with one of the pacing elves.
4) Have fun!
5) Finish. Just Finish!

I tucked in with the 70 minutes pacing elf pack, and set off. This was already a lofty goal, as it would have meant knocking 8 minutes of my previous 10K time (which was mostly downhill)

I found it almost slow at first, and would pull ahead, then drop back to match them, then pull ahead, then drop back. (this was probably my downfall) Once I dropped behind them (obviously having exerted too much energy somewhere) I couldn’t catch back up, no matter how hard I tried. And I knew if I pushed to hard up to that point,  I would really struggle at the end. Clearly, I’m not at the 70 minute 10K mark yet. (the racers BLOWING by on their return like Usain Bolt when I hadn’t even reached the 4K mark lead to me trying to pick up my pace… so much for #2)

At 5K, knowing I was way off pace, and likely to finish dead-fucking-last, I took a moment to look up and around at my surroundings. What a gorgeous day! Blue skies, bright sun, a spectacular view of the city skyline from the Leslie Spit, Lake Ontario glistening calmly on the other side for as far as the eye could see. Just lovely.

Don’t get me wrong, I was freezing my ass off. The wind was slicing through my shoes and legs like a box cutter at points. (Windchill was in the double digits) but I finally have figured out how to layer my core properly. #browniepoints

After a brief slow down between 5-6K, my goal now was to try and maintain a sub 8 min K. So I pushed myself a little harder. I went back to my own pacing of walking during the verses/running during the chorus. I re-read the article I read before I went to bed on proper running form and foot placement. (well, I visualized it! lol) That took my mind off my burning lungs and quads, and distracted me. Then, there it was, the finish line.
And there were still people behind me! (not many mind you, but still, I wasn’t last!)
And low and behold, a personal best! And without the aid of a massive downhill!! (which bodes well for next year’s Toronto 10K)

This is a great race! Well organized, great swag, great course, great communication, great cause. They even sent an email out a few days after the race, inviting all of those who couldn’t run to come out the following Saturday and run it and collect their medal! (timing on the honour system of course) AND they offered a link to the pictures for free! Sweet! (I haven’t found one of me yet, and it will likely be as horrifying as all the other ones I’ve seen, but If I do, I will snag it!)

Not a bad way to finish out my competitive racing year. I ran 10 of the 22  races I had bookmarked this year, and PB’d in all but 2. (though technically the first time you run a distance it is your “personal” best so lets say all  but 1 race!) And I now have 13 shiny medals hanging on my wall heading into 2015 to inspire me to continue on my journey.

Rating: 5_star

2014-12-05 19.11.52 2014-12-07 08.04.46 2014-12-07 10.23.47

Turning Black Friday into White Friday

BF2WFAre you enjoying Black Friday? Did you get that super duper special just can’t resist deal on something you really REALLY wanted?

Did you actually really, really NEED what you bought?

So many people don’t have the luxury of bargain hunting on Black Friday. Everyday is a bargain hunt for them, but not for things like tv’s, and phones, and leather coats, and jewellery… but rather for milk, and bread, and vegetables, and toilet paper. Things most of us take for granted.

I’m not saying don’t shop.
I’m not saying don’t buy that new “thing”

I’m just saying let’s turn Black Friday into White Friday.
Be the white light.
Be the hero in the white hat on the white horse.

Here is my challenge to you:

Whatever you saved on your big ticket purchase today, donate it in kind to a local charity. Saved $50 bucks on that tv? $50 will buy about $250 in food when donated to the food bank. ($1=$5 in food distribution) It will also go a long way at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen.
Pick something that speaks to you!

Did you get a new appliance? Couch? set of dishes? Watch?
Consider “Freecycling” your old ones. It keeps them out of the landfill, and will they definitely be appreciated by it’s new owners who may not have any other means of attaining them.

Coats? blankets? drop them off at your local outreach program. (maybe pick up a pack of new wool socks to add to your donation)

Or think small and simple. Instead of merely walking past that fella or lady on the street today (or tomorrow) to get to the next big box store of bargains, offer to buy them a hot lunch, or some fruit. (they likely get more than enough coffees) Don’t just assume and hand them something either. Take a moment and actually speak to them and ask what they would prefer. You’ll be amazed how that will make them feel. (and in turn how you will feel. Trust me, it can be life-changing)

Let’s turn this day (nay weekend) of greed into a movement of giving.
Everybody wins.
Let’s Pay it forward.
I dare you.

Remembrance Day

He shot all of us that day.

He shot our ancestors, our fathers, our brothers, our husbands, our friends.

He shot our innocence, our ideals, our open hearts, our pride.

But he didn’t win. In fact, he will be but a footnote weeks from now. “that guy” “that lunatic” who opened fire on unarmed men from behind, sadly killing one of them.

And as the life drained from Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on the steps of Parliament Hill, the pride, the resolve, the absolute defiance across the country grew.
Canadians were the Grinch in the days following the shooting.
Our hearts grew five sizes that day.

I vacillated between curl up in a ball sadness, and “don’t mess with me or my country!” rage. It seems we all played the same balancing act. But what we didn’t do? Panic.

We didn’t overreact. We didn’t give in to the calls to shut down our borders and barricade ourselves. In fact we went on with our lives… loudly. A sort of “I dare you” attitude under the surface.

We wore red, and Canadian flags. We made a point of shaking hands with and thanking the men and women who keep our streets and country safe.

And in a profound moment of solidarity, those who could came by the thousands to stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers and friends along the Highway of Heroes to bid farewell to the dedicated young man that now represented the very heart of Canada.

I am still choked up weeks later as we remember all of the solders world wide, who fought and gave their lives to allow us the freedoms we enjoy today.

I am proud. So, so proud.
I’m proud to live in this beautiful country.
I’m proud to call myself a Canadian

Happy November!

Happy NovemberSo, as I settled in to my favourite seat at one of my favourite Starbucks,  dusted off the keyboard and my “writing fingers” and began to do a little blog housekeeping,  I realized that it wasn’t that I hadn’t written anything for a while, but rather I hadn’t published anything!  I have like 13 drafts on my dashboard, all in various states of being.

“How does this happen” some may ask. Well, I was in a bit of a funk through Sept/Oct.
A general malaise that stunted my creativity.
A writer’s block the size of the Great Wall of China.

Some are articles waiting for photos. Some are galleries waiting for articles. Some are just random thought blurbs that went unexplored, but all are being attended to as we speak. (trust me, some of it was for my eyes only, and will be trashed post haste!)

At any rate, to save myself spamming my 10 followers (ha!) I will be gradually post-dating and publishing a couple at a time, while adding some new content at the same time over the next week or so, to get myself up to date and back into a rhythm.
So consider yourselves warned ;-) and Happy November!

Toronto 5k

10703940_10154588445895191_415053522590821777_nHappy Birthday to me!

First competitive run since the spring. (!)

TMI Alert: Woke up with my period, severe back cramps and diarrhea. (Really?! You’d think by 49 that would be the gift that no longer keeps on giving… Just sayin)

So, couldn’t eat or drink other than a couple of bites of raisin bread to line my stomach for the 2  Aleve I had to take for the cramps.

Now, let me preface this by explaining how much of a light-weight I when it comes to drugs…

I was pretty much running in a full body stone floaty fog the whole race. Not the mental or physical state you want to be in. Normally I’m all adrenaline rush, emotional… today? pretty much chill… LOL!

I didn’t expect much out of myself to be perfectly honest. My training has been pretty non-existent for most of the summer. The last run of any consequence was back in the beginning of August, only about 2-3k at a very slow pace, and that was following a 3 week run of a kidney stone, a hernia, and strep throat!

As far as courses go, this one was all new to me.  A big slippery, sweeping downhill at the start… this never bodes well, as it means there is a big, slippery, sweeping uphill a the end… which was indeed the case. Now the slippery part came courtesy of the constant drizzle which started about 15mins prior to gun time… so the oils embedded in the concrete oozed to the surface of the road.

Despite my lack of training/prep, I managed to push out a 39:46 (7:59 average k time), just shy of my personal best time. This bodes well for my next race,  the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, where I’m hoping to best my time from last year.

It was a lovely small event, and the perfect start to my 49th year on this whacky planet.

2014-09-13 09.13.20-1

They say it’s your Birthday… Happy Birthday to ya!…

They say it’s your Birthday… You’re gonna have a good time…

“they” are / were right!

Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’m happy.
Yes, that’s right, you heard me, happy.
Unabashedly enjoying life, and all that it has to offer.

Nope, website hasn’t been hacked, nor have I been absorbed by pod people.

I just finally, after years of misery, and trying to fit my square pegged self into all of the shiny red holes everyone else thought I should be in, decided enough was enough.

I decided to be apologetically me…
And guess what? I discovered I LIKE me. Who knew!?
And so do others.
And guess what? I don’t need fixing!

Now I’m not saying I’m perfect suddenly. Noooooo… there is always room for improvement in many areas.
I’m just saying that at the core, I’m a pretty fucking awesome person, and after 49 years on the planet, I feel like I actually truly am authentically ME. Continue reading They say it’s your Birthday… Happy Birthday to ya!…

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