Caught in a hail storm

Hi Everyone

Today’s run was going along nicely. Zipping past the beautiful blooming carpet of Squill coming out of Pottery Road. Stopped briefly to talk to a runner/neighbour on the uphill paralleling Bayview. Wearing a pair of old road shoes because the trails have been so muddy the past month that my trail shoes hurt my feet due to lack of use. Grabbed that yellow/orange Loblaws cart that was beside the trail heading towards the Millwood bridge. It had been driving me crazy and seeing as I had just grabbed the red one past the bridge yesterday it seemed fitting. Pushed it to the sign board by the bridge and will get it back to the store by the end of the week. Headed out along the Ridge and surveyed the cleanup from yesterday (see pictures). Flying past Thorncliffe and planning the next clean up, feeling good about that. A big huge shout out to whomever or whomevers put in the new bridges along Rim Job and Part Atmosphere. That is a lot of hard work and much appreciated. The incredible rain we have had this spring have resulted in some huge trail washouts. Thanks so much to the folks who did that. Came off that trail and I was heading on to the trail I call Rock Paper Snake which is really called Climbmax and the drops of rain started. I could hear the drops hitting the trees and wondered if I could escape and get home without too much damage. Sadly no, the rain was hail and I got pummeled. Strangely I ran stronger and with more determination as I headed the last 8 K or so for home. Enjoyed the run immensely and made it up the Pottery hill in fine form. Finally home, front and hair drenched but butt and back of T-shirt dry. Perfect, faster then the rain.


Not this spring

Hi Everyone

We are in that shoulder part of the year for trails. The sometimes nice frozen trails have given way to melt and mud. We wait for bluebells, trilliums and the single track to dry out. Most seasoned folks know that this is the time to stay off the trails and let them heal. All sorts of plants, some desired and others not all (see invasive species like Dog Strangling vine, though that comes later) are pushing their way through last year’s leaves. Boston is just a few weeks away and our groups will hit the trails as soon as I return. It has been this way for the past 5 years. I love this part of the year, so much before us and so much of it is glorious and gentle. This year there is no Boston, which for me seems so odd after 17 of them, and no trail groups. Even the small groups of 9 or so spread out in the woods, even at six feet apart or more is not a good idea. I will miss this and you who have been part of my spring, and fall, for the past five years. I know most of you as well as I know the woods, familiar and amazing, honest and kind. Shoots are already poking their stems out of the soil, new growth for the valley and us. I hope we can make our way through this new year without many of our familiars. When this winter of discontent and steep challenges passes I truly hope we will find each other well and healthy. When the time comes we will meet again and talk of roots, running form and many other things. Until then, thank you to you all. I am not given much to expressing my emotions  publicly but perhaps this one time, I miss you all very much.


What does running mean to you


The other day I was coaching running and the youngest runner in our group, 25, came up to me and asked “ How do I get faster? How do I become a better runner?” This young man has many many things going for him. He is reasonably talented, not sure how talented, but there is something there. He has already put in some work to be the best runner he can be. Most of all he is only 25. I am the classic “ if I had only taken running seriously I would be………”. That could’ve would’ve should’ve guy. And here is this young man and he can, he should and hopefully will leave it all on the ground? Road? Trail? Well wherever he will race he has the opportunity to decide how far he wants to go along the path to the runner he can be.

Before we talked about anything I asked him to decide one thing, “ What do you want running to mean to you?” What I mean by this is; is running going to be a hobby, a serious hobby, a way to stay fit, a social vehicle, are you thinking of making part of a career, what about going full out and giving it everything you have got and really seeing how far you can go,?

For me at his age running was a kinda cool thing that few people did and with a mid sized kinda effort on and off I was pretty good at it. Running meant to me, though almost without much thought, that some local success was good enough. I look back and wonder, without very much regret, what if I was willing to ask that question and answer with something more lofty. What might have been? Who know but I wish I would have asked myself this.  I very well might have been the same runner that I was anyway. I didn’t really think to ask that question and nobody was around to ask it for me. Today I ask that question much more often. I coach, I have this very satisfying trail endeavour and I commit to nearly every year with seriousness and hard work. Running means more and more each year as I age and look to stay in good fitness to be able to enjoy the other parts of my life. This is definitely not a question I even thought to ask at 25. There are  many questions that I did not ask myself at 25 that I wish I would have asked.

Running at my age, 56, still feels pretty much the same as it did some 30 years ago. I know many would challenge me on that statement but it pretty much does. I lace on my shoes and head out the door and work as hard as I can almost every time out. I feel just as fast and still get a great deal of satisfaction out of a strong run. The changes are evident when the finish line clock has numbers that are too high and slowly getting higher still. I am still somewhat in denial. I shake my head a little and wonder why those numbers aren’t a bit more friendly. It hurts a little that my age is a factor when people say great race. I firmly believe that I can still get those numbers back to a acceptable level but the numbers don’t lie and where I hope to get to many would say it is unrealistic. So I ask myself “ What does running mean to me?”