Friday, October 30, 2009

Reflections on our trip to Jamaica

Graffiti is the most effective way to communicate with the people of Kingston. And not the ones who live in the mansions on the hills behind the gates and guard dogs.

Sally and I just got back from a week in Jamaica. We went to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of close family friends. And yes, I got in some really hot weather running for the Reggae Marathon December 5.

It was my first time 'bak a yaad' in over 10 years and Sally's first. We had a blast! But were constantly reminded of the divide between rich and poor. The gap seemed larger. My memories of growing up in Kingston haven't dulled with time. But the current economic and political realities of Jamaica in 2009 play out very starkly on the streets.

Some other reflections from our trip:
  • Driving on the streets of Kingston is a...bit exciting! Not for the faint-of-heart. "Type A" personality from even little old ladies once they get behind the wheel.
  • Car horns! Used liberally. In greeting. In anger. In frustration. Get used to it.
  • Where do the wild goats on the streets come from?
  • Where do the wild dogs on the streets live?
  • Yes you can still go to a very safe, family beach in Kingston. We did and had the BEST fried fish and festival ever cooked. I can still taste the 1 lb Red Snapper! Sally loved hers done up as Brown Stew.
  • Buses pass cars. Even on the tight, narrow, winding road up Mount Diablo on the way from Kingston to Ocho Rios. We took the Knutsford Express Luxury coach and learned a lot about 'overtaking' Jamaican style.
  • Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork taste best in Jamaica. We make it better in Canada but nothing beats the taste of Jerk eaten with fingers right from the grill. At the Jerk Centre in Ocho Rios Sally and I worked our way though a tasty meal within hours of landing
We left the activity of Kingston for a couple of days of real R&R in Ocho Rios. It was exactly as I remembered. Busier of course (the car horns never stop) but just as beautiful.

From our condo window at Fisherman's Point we had a panoramic view of the crescent of white sand. I didn't run along the beach (too stressful on the joints) but did manage some road runs up the coast to Dunn's River Falls.

Can you say HOT? Even at 7:30 am in the morning the blazing sun got my attention. Seriously! Already thinking about how to better prepare for the Reggae Marathon in 4 weeks.

Despite the 'challenges' we observed, we had a great time. Can hardly wait for December 2 when we come 'bak a yaad' for the Reggae Marathon.

And if you haven't got round to it yet, there is still time to donate. Follow this link for instructions:

Until next time...

Monday, October 19, 2009

I got high on Sunday

And it only took 2:12:15. That was my time in the Goodlife Toronto 1/2 Marathon on Sunday. Started well and finished strong

The high began around the 5 km mark when I crested the uphill grade from Hogg's Hollow. That was one mean hill.
It stayed through the 15 km mark when I realized there were only 8 km to go. But it really intensified as I began the final stretch up University Avenue to the finish at Queens Park.
"HUGE" thanks to all the support from the Wasaga Beach Road Runners. So much training advice on our Sunday morning runs in Wasaga Beach. It all came down to one key thing: I ran MY race. I ran at my pace, didn't get sucked in to following faster runners early on, and had enough to finish really strong.
These shots were taken my #1 Support Person, Sally. She is not a morning person. Let me emphasize that: she is NOT a morning person.
We stayed overnight in Toronto at a fabulous hotel near the airport, Hotel Indigo to minimize the travel Sunday morning. Even with that we still got up at 5 am.
I must rephrase: I got up at 5 am to get the coffee ready.
Without that I shudder to think what the morning would have been like.
But she is a real trooper and actually got into the intensity of the day to take some really great shots.
And did it ever feel good to put this medal on. The feeling is still indescribable.
We had a celebration dinner later Sunday afternoon. Ribs! Pigged out on them actually. And the Guinnes...ahhhh....
Yes, I was still on my runners high.
My focus now turns to the Reggae Marathon on December 5 in Negril. I will run MY race there.
Check out how you can support my fundraising for my cause, Canadian Diabetes education and research.
Until next time...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Paintball fundraiser for my Reggae Marathon Run

With a lot of help from 'the sons', we have set up a major fund raising event on November 14, 2009 in Wasaga Beach to raise money for the Canadian Diabetes Association. We call it the 'Wasaga Beach Paintballer' in support of the CDA.

Talk about support!

We have an 'all-inclusive' weekend planned that includes 4 hours of paintball fun at Wasaga Paintball, special banquet dinner at Beverly's-on-Main and 1 night's accommodation at Saga Resort. Plus there will be other 'stuff'.

Honestly I can't contain my excitement and emotion. Here is an idea that came from someone else and that everyone we have spoken to so far simply loves. And the best part is that we get to raise a lot of money for the Canadian Diabetes Association. The details are below:


“In support of the Canadian Diabetes Association”

Saturday, November 14
Wasaga Beach

Chris Morales is running in the grueling Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica on December 5, 2009. His goal is to raise $10,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). You can donate to the cause and have a great all inclusive weekend playing paintball in Wasaga Beach on November 14.

1 s t Run the Reggae Marathon Fund Raising Paintballer
  • 4 hours of Paintball fun at Wasaga Paintball (includes gear,
    and equipment)
  • Banquet dinner at Beverly's on Main, one of Wasaga Beaches
    finest restaurants (alcohol not included)
  • 1 night accommodation at Saga Resort, the best hotel in
    Wasaga Beach
  • Light breakfast Sunday morning
  • Prizes
  • Includes a donation to the Canadian Diabetes Association (tax receipt will be issued)

Please make cheques payable to Chris Morales, CDA Fund Raiser Funds must be received by November 3, 2009. My email is: and my phone is: 705 422 1657

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Running is my life ... Lessons about motivation

I spoke to a group of runners this week. A big thrill!

Each Wednesday, Dr. Sarah Adams of Beach Chiropractic in Wasaga Beach holds running clinics Great idea. She asked me to tell my running story to a group of newbie runners. I said yes of course ... I got to run and talk!

I share the text of my talk below because it answers the questions I get asked most frequently: what are my running goals and how do I stay motivated. Here you go:

I pretty much talk about running all the time. I relate most of my life experiences to running. Drives my wife, Sally crazy. But for the past 27 years or so, running has been the one constant through all the ups and downs I have experienced including career. I can truthfully say that without running, I wouldn't be here today. I am running this year to raise $10,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association, the disease that triggered my Father's death in 2008. Please donate generously:

But let me back up.

My name is Chris Morales. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to Canada in 1972. Between us, Sally and I have 4 boys aged 22 to 26. We moved to Wasaga Beach about 5 years ago with the intention to semi-retire. It hasn't worked out that way: Sally says I have to keep working so that I don't drive her crazy.

Running has done three things for me: it has improved my health, it has kept me sane and it has led to my 'encore career'. I'll talk about all three tonight. First of all, health.

As I mentioned, I started running about 27 years ago. It took a couple of years for it to stick though. Let me paint the picture more graphically for you: 240 lbs with a size 44 waist if I held my breath in. Completely sedentary lifestyle learned from college/university: chips, pop, beer, TV. The couch was my friend.

Then a number of things happened to get me off the couch. First, my doctor noted at an annual physical that my blood pressure was higher than normal. Based on my family history of hypertension, diabetes and strokes, he suggested that unless I did something about it, I was well on my way toward that.

Second, my twin sons were born. I knew I wanted to stay active in their lives. But that still was not enough to get me up off the couch.

It took a wedding.

I went to the wedding of a friend from college. He was a big guy, weighed over 300 lbs. I hadn't seen him for a year or so and was shocked to see him at less than 200 lbs. He weighed less than me! If he could do it, so could I!

That did it. That was the motivation I needed to start running to achieve the goal of loosing weight.

The very next week I got out an old pair of running shoes. Dug up a pair of cotton sweat pants and hoodie and under cover of night, went out for my first run. At the time we lived at the top of a small hill. The downward run was appealing. I did not think about the return.
I made it exactly 100 feet down the hill before I collapsed. Lungs heaving completely out of breath. Thankfully it was at night.

I continued on like that for about ½ a mile. Stopping every 100 feet to catch my breath. The run back home up the final 100 foot uphill grade was hell.

But I kept at it. Wanted to loose the weight very badly. A couple of weeks of running 3 times a week followed by a couple of weeks off. Then back on. Still eating the salty snacks, pop, beer. Slightly longer distances sometimes. Not much in the way of results for the first few months.

Then around the 4 month mark I noticed that I didn't have to suck in my waist as much to get into the size 44's. Must be the exercise. It was enough to keep me going.

Around the same time I started a new job in Toronto. My client was a dedicated runner. He encouraged me to enter a 10 k race that his company was sponsoring. After lots of hemming and hawing, I did.

Hell on earth for that first one. Shorts too short and tight; cotton t shirt enhancing my 'love handles'. No idea about hydration or pacing. I did very little training. I mean, how bad could it be to finish 10 flat kilometres? Very bad as it turned out.

I was OK through the first 5 k but struggled like crazy for the rest of the race. At 50 minutes with 1 kilometre to go, I somehow found the strength to make it to the finish line just under an hour.

I learned something that day: I loved competing with myself. And I was never going to be that unprepared again. The next year I again entered the event and finished in a respectable 48 minutes.

For the next few years I enjoyed the competition against the clock. I ran countless 10 k and 15 k events. Even tried my hand at a ½ marathon and finished in good shape and in a decent time. I had my personal best in a 10 k as well: 42 minutes. Never repeated since and not that concerned about it. I finally enjoyed running. And the health benefits were fantastic: down to 175 lbs with a size 32 waist. Low blood pressure. I felt great.

Lots of injuries along the way though: shin splints, sprained ankles, and knee pain. Youth is indeed wasted on the young: I didn't stretch, rarely changed my running shoes … basically did everything wrong. I wish now I had joined a running club or asked for advice.

Disaster finally struck in the Toronto Marathon. Again, a little cocky and ill prepared for the event. I unwisely went out too fast with the goal of finishing in a little over 3 hours. Oops...

The rain started at 5 k. The wind at 10 k. The knee pain at 15 k. I made it to 23 k before I dropped out. The worst feeling of my life.

Unfinished business.

I lost the urge to compete in running events after that. Kept running though because of the second benefit of running: mental sanity. At around that time, I lost my job and went through a divorce. I kept running and it kept me sane. Just the exhilaration of being outside with no one to bother me was enough to pull me through.

But I needed competition; needed new goals and motivation. But because of the unfinished marathon and after running in so many 10 k races, I needed something new. Triathlons beckoned.

You think after my previous experiences I would have been better prepared. True to form however, my first one went from bad to worse. It was in Barrie in the early spring. I had a 25 year old bike and no wet suit. It was early spring with air temperature in the low teens and water temperature around the same. And it was a wet start. For those of you who have never done one, that means you wade out into the water 5 minutes or so before the starting gun and tread water until the start. For a guy who grew up in Jamaica, wearing only bike shorts, that was NOT fun.

Turns out that even though I had not prepared at all for this I was a strong swimmer. I got out of the water in respectable time and headed out for the bike portion. Cold and wet. Learned all about wind chill that morning.

And to top it off, as I came back into the transition zone on my bike, I fell off in front of all the spectators as I started to get off. I got up, though and finished the run.

But I had been bitten by the bug.

I spent the winter training. Swimming and running. And in the spring of the following year, a nasty little exercise called 'the Brick'. 30 km bike ride at full speed followed immediately by a 5 – 8 km run at race pace.

But it worked. With a new triathlon bike, racing suit that Sally bought I competed in the Subaru triathlon series for a couple of years. My goal was to finish in the top half of every race and in the top half of my age category. And I did it. Motivated to beat some of the professionals.

After those years I learned to run better and take care of myself to reduce injuries. After all, I wasn't getting any younger. I learned to eat better and began cutting down on the salty snacks and sugar pop.

And I kept running.

Then last year, mid-2008 disaster struck again. Triple hit: lost my job, Dad passed away after his long battle with multiple diseases brought on by diabetes, and the economy went into the tank. I knew if I kept running I would get through it, but it was tough.

The light appeared when I remembered my 'unfinished business'. Ahhh... I was going to finish my first marathon!

That was the goal. The motivation? Raise $10,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association. And because of my Jamaican heritage, I chose the Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica on December 5, 2009...hey, might as well run where it's warm.

I receive a ton of support from the Wasaga Beach Road Runners: Mike, Eric, Jim and the entire gang have been absolutely fantastic. We run together on Sunday mornings and I get a lot of great advice and encouragement. (Thanks Mike for including the link to my CDA fund raising).

So far I have talked about the health and mental benefits of running. The third one for me is being able to take this into.

The eureka moment came while I was running of course. Duh!

Running: set goals and objectives, train, deal with challenges and set backs. Same as in business. I married the two to satisfy a need in the marketplace of small/mid-size business owners who are want to optimize their business to achieve personal goals and objectives. On line I can be found at

Running now really is my life.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How's the training for the Reggae Marathon going?

It has been cold and rainy in Wasaga Beach for the past week. And the forecast calls for more rain as the temperatures continue to plummet. Not ideal for training for the marathon in Negril where the recent temperatures at the 5:15 am start have been 27 degrees C.

Hydration, hydration, hydration! Lots of water.

I have been doing a lot over the past few weeks to get ready:
  • Mike McCluskey and the Wasaga Beach Road Runners gang are the best training partners. Mike shares his marathon running experience and training advice. I concentrate on speed-work during my weekday runs and leave the Long Slow Distance runs (LSD's) for the weekends. I have reduced the strain and pain in my legs. Join a running group is my advice to anyone who wants to train better.
  • Going for bi-weekly adjustments and massage at my chiropractor. Keeps me well adjusted and reduces the muscle tightness.
  • Lots of water. On my long runs I use a backpack water system. I go through about a liter of water an hour during my long runs.
  • Shedding weight. Sally prepares excellent meals each day. Gluten and dairy-free, tasty and delicious and well balanced. Thank you very much (I know I'm a little heavy with the hot sauce though).
  • Salty snacks and alcohol gone for now. I can feel the difference and improvement each day.
  • Running in the Toronto Half Marathon on October 18. This will be a real-world test. I don't care too much about time, but I will experiment to see how my body reacts. And John Stanton from the Running Room is the finish line announcer. Cool!
  • Running in new Adidas cushion shoes from the Running Room Outlet store in Toronto. Breaking them and if they feel good after the Toronto Half, I'll buy another pair for the Reggae Marathon.
  • Including a rest day each week. Love the effects of the jacuzzi that day.

The biggest training boost comes in a couple of weeks when Sally and I will be in Jamaica for a week long vacation. Going to a 50th wedding anniversary for very close family friends. Yes we are leaving Tia behind with Michael :(.

Ahhh the heat...I'll get in some 'hot' runs. Sally and I will get in a long overdue vacation . We are really looking forward to it.

And finally, donations are coming in at a good clip now for the Canadian Diabetes Association. A big "Thank you" to those who have donated generously so far. We still have some way to go so please generate to the CDA as generously as you can. Here is the link to the down loadable donation form: Please forward this blog link on to everyone you know.

I have also received interest from some local businesses in sponsoring me. Wow! In the upcoming weeks I hope to promote these socially-minded individuals and companies. If you are interested in coming aboard as a sponsor, please leave a comment below or contact me directly at

Until next time...