Kids and Running Part Deux: Races that include kids

Your little one has decided he wants to tag along on your runs.  You let her join you and watch as she sprints to the end of the street and announces the run is over. Eventually, he expresses an interest in running a race because you are running a race.  Where do you find a race that includes your offspring?  Here:

Walk+Roll Peel (Brampton, Ont.) – 1Km kids course.  Usually held in October.

Oasis ZooRun (Toronto, Ont.) – Cub Run is less than 1 km long.  Lots of fun.  Everyone gets a bib with the number 1 on it plus a tshirt and other assorted goodies in the race kit.  Free admission to the zoo for the day is included.  Usually held in October.

Where’s Franktown (Franktown, Ont.) – Family Run that is approx. 1 km long.  Kids receive a certificate for completing the race. Usually held in May.

Mudrun (Toronto, Ont.) – 1.5 km Kids Mud Run.  Part of me thinks this sounds awesome.  Bet the kids would love it!  Usually held in June.

Taylor Creek Park Fun Run
(Scarborough, Ont.) – 2 km Kids Run.  Usually held in July.

Longboat Toronto Island 10K and 1K Kids Fun Run (Toronto, Ont.) – 1 km Kids Run.  Usually held in September.

Whitby 10 Miler, Santa is Back in Town (Whitby, Ont.) – Each run has a 1 km kids race.  The 10 Miler is held in November; the Santa race is held in December.


Holiday entertaining idea: Brie with caramelized apples

With all of the holiday entertaining publications that have recently been distributed, I’ve received several ideas for serving brie.  Since I quite like brie, I’ve decided we should try a few out.  Tonight’s experiment: Brie with caramelized apples, brown sugar and pecans.  It was absolutely delicious!  Excuse the poor picture quality.


Bried with Caramlized Apples, Brown Sugar and Pecans

Okay, so what do you do to make this?

Freeze your brie for at least an hour.  We used a small round.  If you use a larger one, you may need to freeze it for longer.

While it’s in the freezer, peel and slice up an apple (small brie) or two (large brie).  Note: use apples that will stand up to cooking ie. Gala.  Don’t use an apple that turns to mush and is more suitable to making apple sauce.

Put apples into a frying pan with 1 tbspn butter (small brie) or two (large brie, 2 apples) and cook until apples turn brown.  I used medium to medium-low heat for this.

After the brie has been frozen, remove it from the freezer and cut the top off it.  I used a cheese slicer for this so that I wouldn’t remove too much of the cheese and could focus on removing the rind.  Arrange the apple slices on top of the brie.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  The recipe that I based this off of called for 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  I used just less than 1 tablespoon so adjust to your taste.  Sprinkle with nuts of your choice.  I crushed a few pecans.  Zap in the microwave anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes.  Watch your cheese.  Ours started to get gooey and melt at the 1:45 mark.

Remove from the microwave and serve with bread slices or crackers.  We used both and found both to be equally enjoyable.

The brie was initially nice and runny and easily scoopable with the crackers.  I would suggest having a spreader or two on hand though as those were also helpful.

Why do I run?  Because I like brie. 😉

Kids and Running

I had a wicked experience last spring. I trained my 10 yr old son to run a 5K and we ran a 5K race together. It was amazing.  Yes, there was griping. Yes there was whining. There was even crying. But enough about me… 🙂

Seriously, the big guy didn’t want to go out for every training session. He needed a little prodding on some days. After a week though (we ran 3 times per week), something really special happened. As soon as we walked out that door together for our warm up, his mouth opened and pretty much stayed that way during our entire session. The same kid who, when asked “What did you do today?” answered “Stuff” instantly had volumes to say to me. It was great. I learned more about Lego than I cared to. I also learned a lot more about my son and his sense of humour as well as his values and his thoughts about what he could accomplish.

I learned I can be a little too tough, without meaning to. That was the day the tears appeared. After the second or third session I asked my son’s permission to push him a little bit. He asked what I meant. I stated that it meant when he was tired and asked for a walk break, I would encourage him to keep going. The first time this happened, he thanked me afterwords. I was surprised. I didn’t think I had done much; all I really did was say “Let’s try to keep going; let’s aim for that fire hydrant”. We had many discussions about how powerful your brain is and how it has the ability to stop you from doing what your muscles are capable of doing. We came up with comical sayings to try to shut our brains down while our legs kept working. I never yelled. I did plead a few times. The first day he cried, it was because he had a stitch and it was bad. The second time he cried it was because he couldn’t believe he had run 5K. He was so overwhelmed (probably due in part to my maniacal jumping up and down with joy) that he just burst into tears. It brought back my memory of my first 10K. I did the same thing at that finish.

I’m reminded of this because I finally brought all the bits together to make a little memory piece for him. I found a shadow box in which to put his medal (if you’re 10 yrs old and your Mom is going to make you run a race, you better get a medal for it!), his bib, cardstock with his time printed on it and his finishing photo. I was also reminded of this time because he just ran with me this past weekend for the first time since last May. We ran 2K together and it flew by. He took charge of the session and laid out the warm up route as well as the running route. The original plan was for 1K but he was having an easy time and the conversation was flowing so he kept going with me.   He had such a good time he asked if he can run with me again this coming weekend.  I’m glad.  I’m glad for a lot of reasons.  One of them is that pre-pubescent moodiness has struck.  I’m hoping that this time spent running will help combat that.  Right now the only thing combating his vicious mood swings is a 250 ml dose of Reisling and that’s not a habit I’d like to adopt.  I’d much rather reconnect over a 30 minute run.

We’re planning on running the same 5K race this spring. Just before I dropped him at our street to keep going on my run he asked, “Mom, do you think I could run a 10K?”. You bet! You can do anything you try to do.

So, we’ll lay out a training plan and see how it goes.

If anyone is interested in our 5K plan, drop me a line or leave a comment and I’ll dig it up and post it.

App Review: MapMyRun iPhone App

If I haven’t mentioned it before, it’s worth noting that I like gadgets.  I especially like gadgets that involve running.

I’ve always used MapMyRun (MMR) to map out my runs either before or after I hit the pavement.  I’m numbers-oriented and really like to track my distance.  In addition to tracking distance, MMR  provides you with your pace based on your distance and your time.  You can track your heart rate per session, gear usage (time to replace those shoes!) and your workouts don’t have to involve running in order to be recorded.  This is really just a snapshot of what the site can do.  If you haven’t visited, check it out!

The site is free to join and you know what that means: adverstisements. Everytime I logged into the site an ad would appear,  prompting me to take MMR with me (ie. use it on your smartphone).  I would think “Who could possibly need that?” and bypass the ad.

It turns out, I needed that.  Okay, I didn’t need it.  But once I got my new iPhone and installed the app, I realized how much fun I had been missing.  It’s AWESOME.  The app uses your phone’s GPS to record your run in real time.  That’s nothing new and not a big deal for Garmin owners.  I, however, am a lowly Polar HR owner and so this is a huge deal for me.  The app displays your current pace and has optional voice prompts that tell you your time/distance/pace/any combination thereof at user-specified intervals.  The MMR app also has a feature that allows for recording your heart rate.  That would essentially turn your phone into the equivalent of a  Garmin HR/GPS, plus, well, it’s a phone (such an understatement for the iPhone 4) so it has more functionality than a Garmin.  To use this HR feature you do need to purchase a wireless chip (Ant+) that will receive the feedback from your transmitter.  To cap things off, the app also has social media settings so you can post your runs (complete with maps) to Facebook or Twitter.


– Carrying your phone.  Let’s be frank.  The iPhone 4 is heavy.  It’s not a brick but the heft is noticeable and it can bounce around if it’s in a pocket.  Where are you going to carry it?  You need to have a pocket (put it in a ziploc bag to keep moisture/sweat out) or some kind of belt/arm strap that you can pop it into. Don’t drop your phone.  That would be bad.  If you’re used to carrying a phone when you run, this may not be a con for you.

– This app chews through the battery.  I think I had determined at one point that if I had everything else turned off I could use this app for 2 hours max and then my phone would be dead.

– Preliminary investigations show that the Ant+ Heart Rate feature may not be compatible with a Polar transmitter.  Since Polar is the most widely used HR monitor on the market, that’s surprising and possibly a drawback.


– If you are like me and feel a need to know how far you’ll be running before you start out, you’ll save time because you won’t be plotting out your run distances before/after your runs.  In that regard, I can return to losing myself and not thinking about street names or where to turn as I’m moseying along.

– You’ve got real time distance right in the palm of your hand.  I’ve come home from a number of runs thinking I achieved a certain distance only to find out that I missed and was short by 0.5 km.  (Frustrating!)  Knowing my exact distance holds a lot of value to me.

Check out the app here!

Check out the Map My Run website here!

Want a raise? Get off the couch and go for a run!

I am currently searching for a new job and when I hopped on over to Workopolis, this article caught my attention.   Next time you’re thinking about putting off that run, think about the timing for your next salary review.  Hmmm, maybe I should add some extra mileage 😉

The skinny on salary: How your weight affects your paycheque | The Workopolis Career Blog.

Poetry in Motion

On days like this, when I don’t want to put on my shoes…
When I don’t want to tie up my laces…
When I don’t want to step out that door into the cool, moisture-laden air that will give me goosebumps…
I do it anyway.

I make it through the first kilometer and then the second and the goosebumps have disappeared.
Soon enough I’m not thinking about distance.
My mind wanders through the tangled ideas that wind through my brain until quite suddenly, I’m at the trailhead.

The temperature is cooler here, fueled by overgrown foliage and a swollen stream.
Signs of flooding abound and there is a smell of decay that lingers in certain places.
No signs of rabbits today. Just goldfinches followed by dogs and their owners.
All too soon, the trail ends.
I’m almost home now; just a few clicks left to go.
It’s a fairly unremarkable run.
And then, it happens.

It is as though my feet have a mind of their own.
This is effortless!
There is no stopping these feet!
I feel powerful, strong and capable of anything!
I am soaring above the ground and it is amazing!
I can handle anything that comes my way!
I can run FOREVER!
A lifetime seems to pass by, in the space of ½ a block.
Something breaks the momentum and it is gone.

Normal pace resumes.
I pass my street and choose to continue, with hopes of recapturing the magic that was.
It doesn’t happen.
I slow to a stop.
I am happy that I put on my shoes…
I am happy that I tied my laces…
I am happy that I stepped out into the cool moisture-laden air…
And I will do it again.

The Road to Recovery is long and winding.

It’s confession time:  I cheat on running.  I don’t just run, I also play soccer.

Recently I was hurt during soccer.  That led to cheating on running with  spinning.  I’m not sure if it’s still considered cheating if you can’t actually run though.

In the semi-final match of soccer play-offs, an opposing player decided my knee looked like the ball.  I sustained a hard hit on the inside of my right knee.  I walked it off for a whole bunch of reasons that could all be summed up in one tidy sentence:  “I was stupid”.  Keeping the “I was stupid” theme in mind, I proceeded to go in for a tough challenge and connected with the ball at the exact same time as an opposing player.  I was limping.  A smart person who valued running would have left the field at that point.  I was stupid.  I went for one more attempt at the ball (just needed to see if my leg would work), made contact and promptly cried out and dropped like a stone.  I was stupid.

Many ice packs later and an eventual visit to a physiotherapist revealed that I was broken.  The verdict: a torn MCL and Pes Anserine Bursitis.  The first kick resulted in the bursitis.  The second hit resulted in the torn MCL, just like this one.  Bye bye running.  The bursitis completely froze my hamstring.  I could manage about 10 degrees of flexion before crying like a baby and yelling “MERCY!”

I had worked really hard this summer to improve my race times.  I was 0.08 seconds off a PR for my 10K (and if I had realized it during the race, I would have busted my hump to achieve that PR).  I had one more race planned for the season: a 10K.  A second chance to hit that race target!  And with one (2…okay, 3) small steps/kicks it was all gone.

Bye bye running.  Hellloooo spinning!  I had hopes of keeping my cardio up so that I could still race the 10K.  My Physio thought it was possible.  Indeed, I did regain a great deal of mobility by week 5.  I was told I’d be out of commission for 6 weeks and the race was exactly 8 weeks away from the date of the injury.  By week 5,  I couldn’t run farther than 2K without experiencing severe discomfort.  I found that running didn’t exactly hurt so much as it resulted in a great deal of swelling afterword (which did hurt, in case you were wondering).  Spinning on the other hand, spinning did not hurt before, during or after.  Spinning did not initiate an intimate relationship between me and my icepack(s) like running did.

Spinning became my go-to activity.  I tried running every so often.  It was a challenge to get to the 5K mark.  I missed it.  I missed running in the way that you can only miss something when you can’t do it.  I pined after it.  I promised that when I could run again, I would run every day.  I kissed any hopes of running my last planned 10K race good-bye.  I made do with spinning.

Before you start wondering when this doom and gloom fest is going to end and think about visiting another blog, just hold on!  Today, 9 1/2 weeks after I got hurt, I ran 5.82K.  It isn’t the farthest I’ve run since I was injured.  It was the fastest!  I sustained a 5:39/km pace.  I’m back on track.  It’s been slow going.  I still experience some minor swelling if I go too far.  I have to carefully manage my distance.  I have to stretch diligently.

I appreciate cross-training (spinning) ever so much more now, for its ability to make me a better runner and its ability to keep me active when I couldn’t run.

I appreciate running more now that I haven’t been able to do it. (How is a girl supposed to manage Hallowe’en and all of the chocolate that comes with it, without running?)

I appreciate the layer of paper towel between my skin and an ice pack to prevent frozen skin. 😉

Tell me – have you ever been injured?  How did you cope?  What did you do to keep yourself active?

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