Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Running in the snow in Toronto

A few years ago when living in Wasaga Beach running on hard packed snow was normal in winter. It was actually safer than it sounds:  Wasaga Beach used sand on the roads and this provided some decent traction. And combined with a lack of salt, there was not much ice.  On many early morning runs after the frequent snowfalls making tracks through freshly fallen snow was truly special.

Fast forward a couple of years to this winter in Toronto!  Who ordered the snow!

One of the 'nice' things about winter in Toronto is the lack of snow.  At least that was how it was up until this year.  We've had frequent snowfalls and with below freezing temperatures it's been sticking around.  I've had to re-learn snow running techniques from Wasaga Beach!  Normally that wouldn't have been too bad but the real challenge has been the ice.  Snow control in Toronto is all about the salt.  Regular salt, sodium chrloride makes things sloppy and dirty when temperatures are near freezing.  As the temperature drops into the deep freeze levels...and we've had that too this winter...the salt stops working and the slush turns to ice.  And that's no fun!

With winter officially only 12 days old now it looks to be 'interesting' running ahead for the next few months. So far no slips or falls but the winter is early.  Stay tuned...

Oh and remember, 'Don't eat the yellow snow'! :)

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Next Big Race: Sporting Life 10K

So as 2013 comes to an end I've had the opportunity to reflect back on a year of running.  It began back in the cold, dark months of January with tentative steps as the first stage of running after sustaining broken bones in my right foot.

It wasn't pretty.  I'd gained a few pounds after months of less intense physical activity and my leg muscles cried in agony as I pushed beyond just fast walking.  But I persevered and by early spring I was running regularly. A relatively mild and snow-free winter in Toronto helped a lot to get back into the groove.

Then my son Court invited to run with him in the Sporting Life 10K in early May.  I was pretty sure I'd be slow as molasses but it was the first big running test.  Heavier than normal I pounded down Yonge Street and even had a little something left for the final sprint-to-the finish.  It felt good.

I didn't race again until the Reggae Marathon 10K in Negril, Jamaica in early December.  After all these years of running and racing, I'd come full circle:  I spent much of the 1980's and 1990's running many 10 K races in Toronto . Nice!

So what's my next BIG race?   I've already hinted at it:  the Sporting Life 10K on May 11, 2014.

On that early spring morning I'll join 25,000+ other runners heading straight down Yonge Street in Toronto.  It's mostly all downhill with a flat finish. That early in the year should produce ideal cool racing conditions.  I expect a relaxed yet fast result.

Training for the Sporting Life 10Kwill include lots of speed work at the local high school track this spring along with longer runs along the Humber River trails.  I may even include some water running along with some spinning at a local gym.  Yes it's all about the running but I'll mix it up a bit this year.

As we move into the depths of Winter in Toronto, the beacon of light that is the the Sporting Life 10 K in May will be the bright goal.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ossies Jerk Chicken at Reggae Marathon

No trip to Negril, Jamaica would be complete without a trip and delicious feast of Jerk Pork and Jerk Chicken at Ossies in Negril.

It's not glamorous.  In fact it is easy to miss while driving or even running along Norman Washington Blvd in Negril.  It sits back from the road just west of Couples Swept Away and basically is a small shack with a covered front porch.

The lady who runs Ossies has been there since we first started coming to Negril in 2008.  It was closed in 2009 but has been open and running every year since.  We usually hit Ossies a couple of time for the best Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork served with Rice and Peas (Yes, I know it's made with Kidney Beans but the name I learned as a kid sticks).

The menu is dead simple:  Jerk Pork, Jerk Chicken, Stem Roast Fish (when available).  And the prices are just great:
A pound of Jerk Pork, half a pound of Jerk Chicken, 2 orders of Rice plus 2 ice cold Red Stripe Beers. Ahhh...now that's the way to celebrate a successful visit to Negril for Reggae Marathon.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Road Trip Home after Reggae Marathon: Bittersweet

All the Family who ran and walked in Reggae Marathon 2013
Once again it was a great time in Negril at Reggae Marathon 2013.  Last Saturday was a fantastic day to go running.  Especially after the cold, snowy and wet conditions in Toronto the week prior to coming to Jamaica.  It'll be tough putting the shorts and short-sleeve running gear away until summer 2014! Brrrr!

Over the years I've been fortunate to have run in some great beach-side locations:  Biaritz, France with my friend Tim;  Bondi and Coogie Beaches in Australia;  San Diago, California; Stockholm, Sweden.  I have great memories of all of them but Negril, Jamaica is the best.  OK, Bondi Beach in Australia is pretty fantastic as well!  The combination of beach, warm weather, glorious food and the company of fellow runners makes it truly special.

This week at Reggae Marathon was even more special.  I caught up with my Cuz, Karin and her hubby, Christopher and his sister and friend.  We solved all the problems of the world once again...and that was before Uncle Donnie and Aunt Betty came for a visit!  They were in Montego Bay and made the short drive to Negril Saturday afternoon.  It was really nice to seem them here in Jamaica.

Then  to top it off, Andrew, Court, Amy and Carleigh came over from their resort to spend the day at Rondel Village.   We spent some time on the beach and playing in the ocean...it truly a family affair at Reggae Marathon this year.


Larry, Dan, Navin and I should now call ourselves "The Four Musketeers".  Larry from Florida, New York, Dan from White Rock, British Columbia, Navin currently in Toronto but who we met in Negril a few years ago.  Hmmm...sounds like the title of a future blog post.

Final thoughts on Reggae Marathon 2013:

  • The weather in Negril was great.  I love the sun so lying all day on the beach 'doing nothing' comes pretty close to heaven for me.  I had one last swim and baste experience this morning before the limo ride back to the airport.
  • Jerk Pork!  Jerk Chicken is OK but I'm a pork guy.  I try to make a reasonable Jerk Pork back home in Canada but have not yet mastered it.  My Dad's version was pretty good and there are some restaurants in Toronto that do a good job but nothing, I mean nothing beats eating Jerk Pork from an outdoor restaurant in Jamaica.  That and a ice cold Red Stripe Beer...ahhhhh.....!!
It was a jam-packed week.  I'm packed for the return trip home and looking forward to being back home with Sally and Tia.  The shuttle leaves in an hour...

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm packed and ready to go to Reggae Marathon!

Next stop, Negril, Jamaica for Reggae Marathon.

All new running gear
for Reggae Marathon
I used Reggae Marathon as an excuse for buying new running gear.  I'm running in the shoes now but the short tights and top will get their first runs this week in Negril.  Between the Running Room Outlet store and a sale at the Bloor Street West store, I scored great deals on pricing.  Better to save money than look good but if you can do both that's always a good thing.

I always stress over packing for Negril.  After bathing suit, shorts and T Shirts, my challenge is what to wear for dinner in the evenings.  I know, I know, Negril is known as the Capital of Casual but evenings out usually require clothing to be taken up a notch.  I usually pack too much but don't we all when we travel.

One of the best things about Reggae Marathon is the location:  Negril, Jamaica.  7 miles of white sand beach with gently lapping waves with temperatures in the high 20's Celsius. After the race itself this Saturday morning, the highlight for me is the Beach!  I am totally OK with spending hours just lying in the sun...after lathering up with sunblock of course. Here are a couple of shots of my paradise:

I'm packed and ready to go! 

Until next time...