Two love stories – stories of two trails

A couple years ago a friend of mine asked me to participate in a FKT for a section of the Bruce trail. I was to run 2 sections. I went early to the first section to scout out the terrain and not having run the Bruce trail in a while, familiarize myself with the blazes again. As I jogged the first bit wondering if I was in the right place and also wondering if I should go grab some food before the run, I passed a young couple sitting by an old stone foundation. A beautiful  setting, stones and foliage still glistening from the earlier rain. I nodded and passed by. I scouted out the first 2 K or so and thought that it would be a breeze to complete the distance in the time allotted for this section. I made my way back and the young couple were still there. As I approached they were both beaming with a freshness. The young man, perhaps 28 or so, approached me and asked if I could take their picture. Of course I said. The couple responded by saying that in the few minutes since I had first passed by, the young man had surprised the young lady with a proposal, ” Will you marry me ?”. She had accepted and I was the first to know. The light in their eyes and the absolute joy they exuded was so present. I told them I would be honoured and took several photos of their special moment in the woods.

That fall, I was married to my lovely bride, Nancy. We were determined to do our own decorations and I said I had a vision of what we could do with the Lion’s Club hall at Ashbridges Bay. I saw unbleached  linen cascading from the ceiling backed by tiny white lights. I saw pumpkins and gourds from my cottage as center pieces. Most of all I saw leaves of bright orange, fiery red and brilliant yellow covering the hanging linen in a beautiful mosaic. The day before the big day, everyone came together to gather the leaves. I knew exactly where we needed to go. We headed to the single track trails of the Don where I run every day. Two families coming together to join, share and find fallen beauty in the most beautiful place I know. The forest was spectacular, awash in deep crimson, burnt orange and yellows of amber and gold. Carefully applying them to our wedding canopy we created my “vision”. To this day, I am teased about my “vision” and I laugh right along but on that day, just over two years ago, we brought together two people in love, two families, and the trails I love were right there, overhead and sheltering me as always. The autumn is the most beautiful time to run the trails and as I did so yesterday my mind wandered to thoughts of falling in love in the woods, remarkable moments and how truly lucky I am.

Footnote:  I was born in Toronto, grew up here and lived here all my life. I was raised in the old railway housing in Summerhill. The city is a big part of who I am and why I run. You can see this is in another story. 

 

Toronto TRUE Runners speak out

Hi Everyone

What this season’s trail group said about this fall sessions- unedited and for no purpose other then making the groups better next time around. Also a few photos. I want to thank everyone for everything during the fall clinics. I really love doing the clinics and it is so nice to have such great people with me. Your enthusiasm and willingness to try new things make doing the sessions so enjoyable. Thanks again for everything – Sean, Shakil, Martin, Irene, Ashley, Annahid, Jarmila, Janice, Bipasha amd Mike.

 

 

 

 

“Regarding the clinic,
I love it. Learning the technical aspect of hill running and reading the terrain changed the game of running for me.now, I’m actually happy to see hills ha.
So, I wish I could give you more constructive criticism but I can’t
Is a clinic not s running club and therefore I follow you to learn and improve my running. Well, I feel 110% more confident and stronger.
Thank you I truly love trail running”

“I think they were great all around and I learned a lot. You have opened my eyes to the best sides/sites of Toronto! extra bonus is the stories you tell about the Don ravines’ history and your experiences, that make it even more fun.”

“The only thing that would be a nice plus is if we can see the route we ran in hindsight online somewhere, like how Sean shared his video. Because I would love to redo some of the trails but am not too familiar with the way.”

“In terms of communicating with the group, knowing where to meet and let people know if you are late, maybe we could use Whatsapp instead of email? what do you think? A whatsapp group for our running class might be nice but I would ask others if they agree.”

 

“Was good session this year only feed back is it would be good to get more distance we had some pretty short ones this year. Also have more of the video running analysis from different angles I’ve found helpful in past.”

“I have always enjoyed our sessions & am sad to see them come to an end. So many positives…

You being so patient and generous with your time & rich knowledge of running, the trails, flora & fauna, local history, and so many other things.

I enjoyed the trails & learning new techniques to improve my running on & in different conditions (e.g., mud, wet, down/uphill), posture etc.

Would be great to get more individualized feedback where possible…and try some new trails/places. Loved the hidden gems you’ve shown us.

I especially appreciated your willingness to be so accommodating of my crazy working Mom/sometimes single parenting schedule by finding points where I could catch up with the group for a run rather than feel like I need to drop out of the group entirely.

I look forward to our next session together & hopefully getting to participate in the inaugural kayaking session next year. ;)”

“Lawrence is the best trail running guide ever because he loves running, teaching and the Don valley trails in what seems like equal measure! He sets the pace that participants can handle, and successively takes you through a program that covers running technique, race strategy, trail safety and different routes while keeping it fun, easy and light. I am always wary of sports programs as they can often be non-inclusive and competitive (and who needs that?!). This is exactly the opposite- if you want to learn or improve your running on trails and in trees, with heart and precision, this is your guy!”

 

“I really enjoyed the trail running sessions as always. I honestly can’t think of anything to improve. The groups are a great size, I like the trails we run on, and you strike a nice balance between instruction and running. Every session I think I learn something new- my favourite takeaway from this one is about how to try and run the downhills without pounding.

Thank you for a wonderful fall season trail running. It was really great! I looked forward to it every week as it was always my favourite run of the week. Your teaching and tips are invaluable!! You’re kind and patient and always super positive. Your love for running and trails and teaching is always so obvious and makes the sessions very enjoyable. I really like the challenge of trying to keep up with everyone as well.
Many thanks again for a great fall season and I look forward to spring when we can start again.”

“I really enjoyed the focus on stride technique this session. Suggestions would be to let us know the distance in advance and to add in longer runs with less stopping.”

So, next spring I will add in all these great ideas and we will be better because of them. Year 3 is done and year 4 coming up. Wow, I have learned so much, again thanks to everyone this fall and to all who have participated, some in every group since we started.

Lawrence

 

 

Running on the dead

Hi Everyone

During my year off from regular life I had the incredible opportunity to trail run all over the world. One such place was in the desert on Africa’s Skeleton Coast. Namibia is amazing country with phenomenal wildlife, vast barren landscape and extremes (see photos below). One of the first places we explored was Sossusvlei National Park. A vast desert with the largest sand dunes in Africa. The sand is multi-coloured but primarily a deep red.

One part of this amazing region is called the Dead Vlei (pronounced flay). A short deep sand drive and then a hike over a few dunes to a landscape which is breathtaking.

We wandered through this weird world and me being me , had to run up the big huge dune beside it. I figured, wrongly, that I could zip up the monster in a few minutes, hey it’s like the dunes in Sandbanks near my cottage only slightly bigger. Slightly is the wrong word but that was what I was thinking. I am stupid. Very stupid. I mean running up sand dunes is kinda my thing. My best results have come off long periods of that kind of training. P.S. go to Sandbanks and run the remote dunes, do it, do it often.

So up I went and then after a few hundred steps I went plunk. Breathing ridiculously hard and feeling equally moronic I struggled painfully up and up and then a whole bunch more up until the top. I honestly thought, no hyperbole here, that I was in trouble. I couldn’t catch my breath. A few photos later, see below, I crashed and slide back down the dune to my wife, the ever patient Nancy. I mean to be fair, it was eight kazillion degrees and I had missed a few runs and….. ok again fairly stupid am I. Runs in Africa were few and far between. All day in our truck driving through incredible national parks and remote wilderness combined with camping each night in areas surrounded by every kind of amazing animal gave me little opportunity for running. Lots of roaring lions at night, no lie, really. I did get a bunch of runs further up the Skeleton Coast which were spooky and amazing.

The YouTube links to 2 videos of the whole messy run. I love the way Nancy encourages me as I am dying and that in one video you hear “told you so”. Also I appear really tiny running because the dune is massive. Also if you watched all of both videos you are amazing because most of the time I am seemingly barely moving. Thanks for your interest, my wife couldn’t sit through all 5 minutes of both and you did.