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

 

 

this is it

Hi

Our spring trail groups are now complete. 6 wonderful weeks of exploring and finding out who we are. Before we conclude though, this Tuesday we will be doing our first ever trail “race” I thought that a challenging “Barkleys” style 7K would be a chance for a little fun and to explore ourselves just a little bit more.

So a little reflection on the spring groups in this our second year:

I thought the trail groups were about learning to run trails but they weren’t. I also thought the groups were about sharing a place I hold dear with some other like-minded runners but it wasn’t. Maybe the groups were a chance to find out about a way to expand one’s running universe and bring something to running that isn’t usually there, adventure. But that wasn’t it either. In the classic film, “Field of Dreams”, Ray is trying to unravel the mystery of the voice and he thinks he has it solved when he sees his father as a young man and he says “it was you” and the Shoeless Joe says “No Ray, it was you”. It seemed to me that so many people in the group were saying in one way or another that “I” sure enjoyed the experience we shared as a group and everything we tried but what “I” really liked was what I learned about myself. The trail groups were about adventure, skills, a new way to experience running and friendship but I came to realize it was just as much about each runner finding out about themselves. We all wonder who we are. We all ask ourselves “what am I capable of?” That was what this was about. I saw something change in each one of us. Another step (ok a lot of steps) in finding the confidence and belief that we are capable of more than what we believe. I didn’t know that what was really going on, when we were climbing steep hills and descending even steeper ones, was that we were finding out that we could. I heard over and over again that ” I never would have tried this” or ” I can’t believe I am doing this” but then “I never” became I DID and “I can’t believe” became I BELIEVE. I watched trepidation become confidence time and time again. Without being too dramatic or overstating, it wasn’t just running and discovering trails, paths, uphills, downhills, creeks or hidden ravines it was a chance to discover just who we are.

I really want to say thank you to Sean, Shakil, Anastasia, Martin, Peter, Giselle, Anthony, Eric, Marty, Carolyn, Sherlita, Janice, Jarmila and Jennifer. This year was very special. I look forward to our “race” and also our last get together fun trail run on Wednesday June 22nd.

Summer groups are starting June 27th. This summer, Jennifer Faraone and I will be running a 5 week trail clinic series on Monday nights. The groups start at 6:30 p.m.and the location is the wonderful single track running trails in the Don Valley. There are just a few spots left. If you are interested please see the sessions page at http://www.torontotruerunning.com.

Cheers

Lawrence