Sunday, 14 September 2014

Race Day Recap: Longboat Toronto Island Run

Getting Up and Getting There

7:00 am - The long day begins.  It has been some time since I've been excited to wake up this early on a morning, and at least two years since my last race.  While the 5k distance itself is not one to be nervous about, my path back to the race circuit has been full of fits and starts, and I cannot wait to hear the starters pistol again with all the other runners and volunteers.  Let's do this!

8:45 am - After packing my day pack and a light breakfast of steel cut oats and roiboos tea, it was time to leave. Ironically, it was not the pre subway service TTC which helped me almost catch the ferry to the island, but endless stretch of construction between Union Station and the water's edge.  The ferry departed the Jack Layton Terminal at 10:00 am sharp, and I made it without a moment to spare thanks to an unanticipated but ultimately useful warm up jog.

Pre Race

10:20  am - Off the ferry and officially part of the pilgrimage to the race area with all of the other straggling runners and supporters.  This 10 minute walk reminded me of just how picturesque Centre Island is, a theme that would play itself out for the remainder of the morning.

10:35  am - Following a final series of Tweets and messages it was time to check my bag, pin my bib,  and get in a quick stretch and warm up calisthenics while en route to the start line.  With about five minutes to gun time, I am officially immersed within the mass of runners ready to test their hearts, legs and minds on one of the most beautiful stretches of real estate in Toronto.  Before we start, however, the MC takes a moment to remind us while we are all here, and brings a smile to my face by giving a shout out to some young runners joining us from the North Hamilton Pathways to Education Site.  It has always been a personal journey for me to get back in race shape, but Pathways and the groundbreaking work they do in the communities they serve, and particularly at their Scarborough site with YouthLink, is the reason why I chose this race on this day to start.  The opportunity to help raise a little bit of money and even more awareness of the impact of their work among my network, alongside my own reasons for being there, was impossible to pass up.   

The 5K

11:00am - The starters gun is fired.  I predicted a pace of 6 minutes per KM, which I almost hit on the button, completing the 5K in a time of 30 minutes and 32 seconds.  While my traditional pattern is one of slow starts and faster paces as the race evolves, on this one I ran with a level of consistency from start to finish I am unused to.  With the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 5K also coming up in a month's time, I know I'll break the half an hour mark there.  But that is for another time, on a far less picturesque course.  Indeed, even though it is one of the shortest race distances I have ever participated in, it may be the most visually appealing, weaving in and out of the water's edge, boardwalks and tree-lined every-wheres.  From the moment I crossed the finish line and they put the medal around my neck, I couldn't wait to sign up for next year's race.  Although in 2015, the promise I make is that I will be in much better shape, running the 10K course, loving it, and raising even more money for Pathways along the way. 

To access and acquire the full album of official race day photos, please visit the Zoom Photo page and enter my bib number (652!). 

Feeding Time

11:30 am - Race finished, it's time to eat!  By far the post workout devouring of food is one of the guilty pleasures of being on the race circuit.  Today would not let me down, with some appetizers at the official Longboat BBQ, followed by a full afternoon of guaranteed yumminess with Ronni, Darren, Dan and friends at the Veggie Food Fest back at the Harbourfront Centre on the other side of the lake.

These are the kinds of days that remind me of how much I love this city.  

Friday, 5 September 2014

Help make Canada a Graduation Nation

The arrival of the YouthLink - Pathways To Education program in Scarborough Village brought with it resources, staff, volunteers, and for students in the area - a chance to be part of something different.

Fast forward five years, and more young people in SV are graduating from High School, going on to university or college, and accessing career development opportunities than ever before.

I am running for Pathways and asking you to join me in making a small donation to help say thank you for the fantastic work they are doing in Scarborough.  DONATE HERE

From the Longboat Roadrunners:

Since 2010, the Longboat Roadrunners have gone the distance for Pathways with their fundraising efforts through the Longboat Toronto Island Run. By supporting one of the Longboat event runners, you can help hundreds of students overcome their barriers to education, graduate from high school, and move on to post-secondary education and training.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

A Day At The Ex

We couldn't let August pass by without an annual pilgrimage to the CNE.  

Like similar visits of years past to Toronto's Exhibition grounds, it was a day marked by endless walking, impossible midway crowds, over priced games, poor food choices, and quirky things to shop for. 

While a Pomegranate Punch Booster Juice perhaps salvaged at least some nutritional quality in my food building choices, it in and of itself may not have been enough to make up for the deep fried filet and fries from H. Salt Fish & Chips, and random niblets of sweets, salty snacks, and deep fried ravioli's galore.  No, while curious, there was no waiting in the +30 minute-deep line to try the much hyped chocolate chicken.  

Rounded out by visits to the Direct Energy and Better Living Buildings, winning furry animals on various midway water gun and roll-a-ball games, and strolls through the lineup at Food Truck Alley - before I knew it night was upon us and there were fireworks in the air.  Literally, a solid 10-15 minute light show, with each one being shot from the pillars of the Direct Energy Centre.  I could have watched it for longer, were it not for the infinite other options to keep our eyes and brains jumping. 

Most importantly, what this day had in common with all prior trips to the Ex, was that it was fun!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Jimmy Fallon on Robin Williams

Some of the best Robin Williams tributes I've seen yet have been coming in from fellow comedians who understand his craft and the level of genius he unleashed on to the world.  Norm MacDonald unveiled a nice, previously unknown story that's been making the rounds on Twitter. View it here:  #RIPRobinWilliams

While that might one of the better ones so far, Jimmy Fallon did a nice job on this evening's episode of #FallonTonight.  No doubt the full clip will be up on the site soon, but it went a little something like this ...

Clearly choked up, Fallon goes on to say  "If you never saw the guy's stand-up, you need to YouTube it right now. He was amazing. He was funny. He was fast. He would weave in and out of characters ..." before giving his own spot on impression of the icon.

"And you'd watch him. And you'd cry laughing. And you'd think, 'I'm never going to see anyone like this human, ever.' His brain was always thinking 10 steps ahead of what he was saying. He was like the Muhammad Ali of comedy."

After showing a clip of Williams running around his first ever appearance on the Tonight Show stage with Johnny Carson, the camera moved back to Fallon who made the climb up on his desk for an obligatory "O Captain, my Captain, you will be missed."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Best Canada Day Video of 2014

Happy #Canada Day! 

With pics, vids, status updates and general information overload about our country this morning, this is easily the coolest one yet.  Courtesy of Commander Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield on Twitter), recent Order of Canada recipient and chronically awesome Earthling - a humble and entertaining ode to our nation with brother ... 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Flags and Anthems

The best part of attending the Leafs-Sens game in Ottawa at the end of the season (aside from finding out my sis made it on Hockey Night in Canada!) was the national anthem. Thanks to the Leafs & Sens the game itself left much to be desired, however, the giant flag in the pic was on constant move through the crowd for the duration of the anthem in what turned out to be one of the coolest arena moments I have experienced in a while. Nice job nation's capital!

@bryanheal on Twitter

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Monday, 21 April 2014

What is a walkable community?

There are six key elements essential to making a community walkable, courtesy of Canada Walks:

Accessibility - the pedestrian infrastructure is appropriate for people of all ages and abilities including those with limited mobility. Examples include sidewalks wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, curb cuts for sidewalks and trails, and crosswalks allowing ample time for children and those with mobility challenges to cross safely.

Density/Land Use - medium density areas have a mix of housing types allowing for a higher number of people than areas of low density with predominantly single family dwellings. Mixed use areas have a mixture of residential units, stores, schools, restaurants, and other services. Having at least medium density and a mixture of land use types is essential for walkability. A higher density makes public transit feasible, which in turn promotes walking.

Access to amenities - In a walkable community, the school, grocery store, community centre, park, library, and other amenities and services including access to public transit are a short walking distance from your home. Having the appropriate density and land use mix makes it easier to have access to amenities.

Connectivity - good connectivity occurs when sidewalks, pathways, and trails connect one area to another in a neighbourhood and when adjoining neighbourhoods are connected to each other as well as to amenities in a direct manner.

Aesthetics - a walkable community is attractive to travel through on foot and invites further exploration. The aesthetics that make a community walkable include landscaping, shade trees, lighting, public art, availability of benches, public washrooms, shelter, attractive buildings and public spaces (plazas and parks). Cleanliness and a lack of graffiti are also important.

Safety along Walking Routes - key aspects of safety along walking routes include separation from the road, traffic calming features to control speed of vehicles, clear and well maintained sidewalks, well-marked crossings, adequate lighting, crossing signals designed with the abilities of the most vulnerable in mind.