mickey mouse

mickey mouse

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Rubber Chicken and a Clown Costume

Well, about 6 months ago I entered a contest with Brooks Canada for an entry into the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  The question was 'what would you do for an entry into the race?'

I said I'd wear a tutu and sing songs that were requested by people.

Yep, they picked me.

This was my last race of the season. In true form I didn't train at all, just got out of bed in the dark and took the 5:55am GO Bus to Toronto. Since it's better to look funny if you're going to run funny, I got suited up in a clown costume and tutu, complete with a smiley face balloon and a squeaky rubber chicken.

Nobody even flinched on the bus....and I arrived at Union Station with my gear and coffee.  Found the start line and got situated in the corral to wait. And wait. And wait. And we're off.

And it is proven to me that a season spent on a couch, with a desk job, and not running except to a food truck has not been a smart training choice. Good thing my goal was to finish.  At about 6k I considered throwing in the towel for my first DNF, 'cause I figured 4 hours of wogging was going to be so blerg.

Then the little voice in my head starting wonking about the medal, and the fact that I was supposed to be singing and how was I going to explain on FB that I quit?

So I started to sing, and in a true show of technical prowess I recorded all the videos sideways and have no clue how to figure them out.

You'll notice amusing (at least to me) themes with some of the songs. AND the fact that I've apparently lost my singing voice since theatre school (or should not sing while I've been running).  I also tried to show some part of the course, to prove I didn't stand in one spot and sing all the hits :-)

How could I not take the opportunity to sing Strange Animal to a bunch of geese?

every now and then someone would ask me what the heck I was doing. I explained it, but that didn't seem to help make it make sense.  

Finally I figured out that I'd need to run a medley together in order to not have to keep running past the finish line to sing them all.

Since a PB wasn't in the cards I figured I'd have fun, and pose for photos whenever the opportunity presented itself.  I ran into the same couple twice, so the second time I had them get in my race photo. I have no clue who they are but they were so nice.

And I managed to get in a jump....I LOVE when photographers play along with my silliness.

At long (long, like 3.5 hours long) last I ran up Bay Street into the finisher chute. Figured I would high five the entire group cheering on the left hand side, then have a conversation with the announcer as I crossed the line.

I can't remember the last time I had as much fun running. I honked the chicken at strangers, at spectators, at kids and animals. Then in the friends and family area I met a mom and a little girl who congratulated me on the run. They said they'd watched me start and watched me finish. I figured that if anyone needed a rubber chicken it was the adorable little girl. So she got the 21.1k chicken and a nice kid on the course got the balloon.

I limped back to Union Station, stopping for a couple #Runfies along the way.


Not sure how I got back onto the train, it did involve cursing my way up the stairs.  However, I can't remember the last time I felt more a part of the crowd and then entire spirit of a run. Maybe next year I'll run the Pride and Remembrance run in costume too....but I don't think in that case I'll even come close to sticking out like I did today.

Thank you Brooks Canada, Canadian Running Series, all the volunteers (especially the ones at the Zoo water station who posed for a photo with me). Thank you to the medical team (which I didn't need but I saw working hard), the folks who lived on every street we ran down (and the understanding folks who could not get across the city 'cause of the closed streets).  Oh, and thanks to the team at Another Mother Runner because their costume podcast led me to the pet section of the store for my dog-toy rubber chicken!

AND Chris Hadfield answered MY running question! I'm SO cool!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

RBC Run for the Kids

What a beautiful day to pretend to run 15k.

I was chosen to be an Ambassador for the RBC Run for the Kids, which was an amazing opportunity to combine raising awareness of youth mental health issues with my love of running.

I have not been running much this year, as a matter of fact I'm basically just running the races I've registered for and nothing else. No training, no LSD on a weekend, no fun runs with friends.  I feel like the idea of running is great, but in theory I just can't get there. I miss my run buddies, my treadmill and the streets are just too lonely. I need to get my mojo back.

For this race I was looking forward to a few things.....
           Wearing my spiffy new Sparkle Skirt
           Running in Toronto (again)
           Being part of a cause I feel very close to 

What I wasn't looking forward to.....
           Driving to Toronto at 5am
           Being awake at dark o'clock
           Driving back from Toronto 
           all alone :-( 

I managed to get up about 45 minutes before I was supposed to, which apparently was the Running God's way to tell me that this trip was going to be a slow one.  Because I was running that meant I got to buy McDonalds for breakfast, but I figured I'd grab it, drive to TO and eat after I grabbed my kit, since I'd have TONS of time. So I got food, stuck in on the passenger seat, and hit the road.


Got stuck in the 'express lanes closed, move. Most of the collectors closed, move. Oh, lookie, let's go nowhere fast.' Yep, there went the 'extra' time I had budgeted. Add that I had to park, walk, wait in (long) line to grab kit, walk back to car, drop stuff, take a bathroom break, and I was literally IN a port-a-potty on the side of the course when the announcer started counting down to the race start.

(oh, and my bib wasn't there, so after some unsuccessful searching they gave me a generic bib with no timing chip on it). Good thing I'm wearing my Garmin (so I thought), because without it I've got no proof I ran.

Exit port-a-potty, jump into the race as they pass me, carrying (I might add) a bag of McDonalds breakfast food.  Trying to set my Garmin, hold my food, and keep out of the way of OTHER people who'd still been in the kit line (or the port-a-potty) when the gun went off.

Run, click, run, click. Finally get Garmin going, try to eat McMuffin. Almost aspirate on cold food and realize that dying at 1.5km of a 15k race because I choked on McDonalds would NOT look good.

At the first water station (3K) I give up on breakfast and figure I'll live on water and GU and whatever fuel drink they serve.  We turn and I discover that we are running DOWN THE MIDDLE OF FINCH AVENUE. Like in the center traffic turning lane, with only cones separating us from the  East-and Westbound traffic flying by. 

 The drivers, who can't turn in the proper lane are less than trilled, some of them cutting across the runners with disregard, to get to their destination.  Thank Goodness for the Toronto Police who are keeping order at the lights and other intersections, and are being so efficient and friendly that I feel safer just knowing they've got our backs.

5K in there's another water station, on the side of the road.  That would be ok we didn't have to cross two active lanes of traffic to get to it (and back).  It's like trying to get to a lemonade stand on the side of the Gardiner. Nope, I'm not THAT thirsty. 

A few K further I realize there is a police car BEHIND me (like right on my left calf) in the turning lane.  He nicely asks me to move into the curb lane (where the cars have yet to realize that we are going to be). He then cut off traffic to let us move into that lane.  WOW, you sure don't want to be the last person running on this course.

One of the nicest parts was running in G. Ross Lord Park. I've never been in the park before, and it's pretty and calm and (phew) traffic free.  I never felt lost, there were a ton of pylons and volunteers and police officers guiding folks.  

I was about 13k in when my Garmin started beeping the 'low battery' warning. Not a good thing. Figure 'okay, maybe it's gonna make it' and realize it's died at about 14k. 

Sep 20, 2014

13.21 km



Pace (min/km)

23 m

Elev Gain

 Not only does my bib not have a timing chip, my source of personal tracking has gone 'blue screen of death'.  So now I get to watch the signs on the road.  We hit 14k and join the 25k and 5k runners coming into the finish.  It's a massive crowd of kids and dogs and chatting people in huge groups wandering down the road.  Wow, very hard to manage, I bet the 25k people were very unhappy to have to play Frogger at that point in the race.  

Turns out the last K was more like 2, which I thought was just me until I compared notes with my fellow Ambassadors who DID have access to timing.

We met up after the race for a photo, what a great bunch of people.  

I have to say that the post-race food blew me out of the water. Grilled cheese (WAY better than cold McDonalds), burritos and pizza, plus rice krispie squares, juice and coffee.  I wish they'd done a better job of marking the tents (from a distance maybe) so you knew what you were lining up for. (and perhaps keeping people from feeding their non-running friends before the runners ate). Sadly they did run out of chocolate milk, but wow, did I mention how great the rice krispie squares were?

While looking for more rice I found Sponge Bob and had to stop for a photo with him.  Notice I'm holding my coveted dessert in a death grip.

No race is complete without an Andrew Chak approved #runfie, so here it is.

And of course, it's not real 'till it's in print in the National Post.

For a race that's only it it's second year they are doing pretty well.  I only had a few suggestions for tweaking it for next year:

  1. Make the race kit pick up near the start (perhaps up by the bag check) so it's faster for day-of kit grabbers from out of town.  Then they can pick up, check bag, pin bib and run.
  2. Put up signage for the types of food offered so people know what tent is doing what (on the tent top, rather than just at the entrance on a ground sign).
  3. Consider checking for a bib for serving food, so that the runners get first priority.
  4. Maybe a slight course change so we aren't going down the middle of traffic on a super busy street.
  5. No water stations that involve crossing live traffic.
  6. Near the end when the three races merge, have volunteers encouraging the slower runners to stay to the right so the 25 and 15k people can pass without running across the pylons into traffic. 
  7. Maybe add ambassadors for each race length, so they all feel included in the day.
Things that were great:

  1. The volunteers were amazing, friendly and happy
  2. The Toronto Police were helpful, considerate of the drivers AND the runners
  3. The food was amazing, way above any race I've ever done.
  4. Running through G. Ross Lord park was a welcome respite from the city.
  5. The band near the end of the course.
  6. How fun being an Ambassador was.
  7. Claire, who kept our band of merry people together and motivated.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

It's not all in your head

So, I've always been pretty open about the fact that I've got issues. Sometimes I joke about people needing to take their medication every day, not just on special occasions. It's true that more people than you'd think are walking around either with mental health issues, or they love someone who does.

I once tried to explain to a friend what was wrong with me, and he said 'why don't you just think yourself better'. I said 'well, you're diabetic, can't you just think your insulin all back to normal?' He was confused and said that he could not do that because it was a medical condition. 

There's the rub.

If you can't see it, if it's not a 'real' illness like diabetes, a heart problem, a cast on your arm, then people can dismiss it as something you could control if you just sucked it up.

That's like saying you can fix your eyesight if you squint really hard.

We have special parking spots for handicapped people, we have accessible buildings and accommodations for folks with autism, and we'd never (hopefully) dream of acting like they all aren't welcome.

But if you suffer from a mental illness (and I hate that term because I think it lumps everyone together) then people can dismiss you.  It's hard to figure out how to help people who aren't like everyone else, and what sucks is that a some people who need help won't seek it, won't keep taking the meds that help them, and will end up feeling worse instead of better. Or they'll turn to alcohol or other 'recreational' drugs to help them cope.

From the woman who recently threw her child into a lake (I can't even read about it, it makes me cry) to the young man shot on a bus, there's extreme cases of mental illness everywhere.  I hate to say it, but people who make the news make others not want to seek help or speak out.  Would you want to be lumped in with a murderer, a psychopath, an abuser? Would you worry about losing your job if you were a police officer, a teacher, a pilot? 

From personal experience I can say that some mental illness starts when you're a kid. I've probably had OCD most of my life, and I never knew. Not because I wasn't 'doing' OCD type stuff, but because I didn't know any different. I've always been who I am. 

OCD is one of those illnesses that people feel like they can joke about. You can say I should come clean YOUR house for a change, put me in charge of planning events, ask me where the charger for the Nintendo is. However, sometimes I'd rather you didn't tease me. Asking me if I know if I locked the front door after we're on the highway? If I unplugged the hair straightener or blew out the candle when we're already at the restaurant? Simply mean. 

It wasn't until I went on medication and got some therapy that I understood that what was 'normal' for me wasn't for everyone. It also helped me see that 'normal' isn't really anything anyone is. We're all a little different. 

That said, some kinds of mental illness don't really have a 'funny' side. Postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis.  Anything where you feel the need to hurt someone else, or you can't see a way out other than hurting yourself. What sucks is sometimes you don't know you've spiraled down, because it's gradual and before you know it you're mired in a swamp of crap.
You can't ask for help because someone will take your child, they'll trust you less at work, the side effects of medication suck.

There's a difference between needing to check the locks in your house 15 times and harming yourself or someone else. Young people especially, with the mix of hormones and peer pressure, society and brain chemicals, tend to be overlooked and told they'll 'grow out of' whatever issues are bothering them.  People say that kids have nothing to worry about, that they can't have real problems because they just have to go to school and come home.  Well, when the inside of your head is messing with you, when your thoughts won't shut up to let people you love speak, when you can't feel without extremes, it doesn't matter if you're 12 or 42.  The kids that don't grow out of these problems grow up to be the adults that never learned to cope.

I'm running in the RBC Run for the Kids as an Ambassador on September 20, 2014. They are raising funds for the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook Hospital. The Project helps families with kids at risk find treatment and helps them sort out the confusing options available.  

As a mom, I want nothing more than for my son to never feel like I did. I want him to know that he can come to me with anything, ask my anything, and I'll be there. Am I watching for signs of my genetics in him? Yep.

There's a culture of people who don't want to admit they have a child with a problem. They feel like they've failed, they've got a kid that's broken, their friends will gossip.  Or worse, they know, they want to help, and they don't know what to do.

We can't do anything if we don't admit we have a problem. We can do even less if we don't accept that sometimes other people aren't what they appear to be.  

Run with me, if you can. Donate to the cause, if you'd like to. Be patient with yourself, and each other, please.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Going Straight to the Pride Run

Going Straight to the Pride Run

I lived in Toronto for 20 years and never went to Pride. For some reason I figured it didn't apply to me, that I would not be part of that community and it would make no sense to be there. That and I hate crowds.

This year, as a runner, I finally crossed another race off my bucket list. The Pride and Remembrance Run is part of Pride Weekend, and I figured that I could at least go, run, show my support and head home.

I was lucky to be part of the team for Fife House. They provide secure, supportive, affordable housing to people living with HIV/AIDS in the GTA, and are one of the beneficiaries of the 5k run.

I wasn't sure what to expect because I've never been part of Pride weekend, and this was bigger than usual because it was World Pride so even more people were participating in the week long celebration.

Once again it was a dark o'clock trip, the GO Train into Toronto at 7am, wearing a tutu, a sparkle skirt, and enough accessories to make the world glitter. Nobody flinched as I added more accessories to my already awesome outfit.

I arrived in Toronto hours before the 10am race start, and wandered around at Church and Wesley.  

 I was so amused by the rainbows everywhere, from inside the TTC station to the TD Bank. The people I saw walking around were happy but had the look of folks that perhaps had yet to go to bed....which explained why the coffee shops had lines of folks smiling and ordering huge cups of coffee.

I remember why I loved living in Toronto, the ease of getting around, the fact that nobody looks sideways at you when you've got a tutu on, that you can find almost anything you want, day or night.

I had time to kill, so I wandered around drinking coffee, taking photos and being thrilled by how wonderful the entire village looked. What's amazing is that mere hours later this entire street was jammed packed with people.

I met up with Cory and the team from Fife House and we got ready to run. One of the team, Sam, had yet to sleep from the parties the night before, and he was charged with handing out the Fife House sweatbands (the blue one in the centre of the photo below).  I figured I'd help him out so he could go get a nap before the next round of  parties.

It was so fun to go through the crowd, handing the wristbands out and chatting with total strangers. Really made me feel like a part of the event. It's amazing who you run into at a race, and for the second time this year I saw this woman at one. This time I could not resist snapping a selfie with her.
Yep, Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario (and our first openly gay one too). She's also one heck of a fast runner.

Before I knew it we were ready to start running, under a huge cloud of rainbow confetti.  
The course went down Wesley street to Queen's Park Circle and then made TWO laps of that. Yep, another case of me not looking at the race route and being surprised when the volunteers said 'around you go again'.  I was having such a great time. I  brought my music but never even bothered to turn it on, it was way more fun to chat, high five the volunteers and enjoy the entire fun time. There were photographers on the course too, can't wait to see how the snaps turn out.

Everyone running seemed to be having fun. There wasn't any of the 'on your left' screaming or people being all about them. There were costumes, and cheering and the volunteers were banging thundersticks and having a great time.

I finished in a huge crowd....
AND made the news! CBC News Toronto  has a great shot of me crossing the finish line about :20 seconds into the intro of the night's newscast. 

After the race I spent some time posing for fun photos 

This was the finish line party area. The best food I've EVER had post-race. Yogurt, cake, pizza, tons of water. It looked like a festival, families and face painting and everyone hanging out.

Then I hit the Lucky Charms booth and had some fun (and got some cereal), posing with their #LuckyToBe posters.
On one of my many treks up and down Church street, I ran into a David's Tea lady toting a huge bunch of stuff on her way back to the store. Figured since I was going that way I'd lend a hand.  As a thanks she bought me a tea! It was a great treat on a hot day. I've never had one before, and I'm sure glad there's a David's Tea in Limeridge mall so I can get more.
There was a Smart Car parked on Church and I could not resist posing when they said it was okay if I stood on the seats!

By far my very favourie photo is this one. The confetti left in the street after the race was so pretty, I could not resist lying in it and tossing it in the air while a (tall) volunteer took my photo.

While speaking to Cory I found out that Fife House and Over the Rainbow had joined forces to create the #PrideCodeTO  shirt. It took me another 2k of walking up and down the street to find (and buy) one. It's on the left.

This was easily one of the best running experiences that I've ever had. Everyone, from the Premier of Ontario to the folks at the water stations was having a great time. I felt more at home in my tutu at this race than any other. There were hugs and high fives and people cheering for strangers. I felt totally at home in a place where I was the minority yet totally accepted with no question. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Up Yer Kilt

Another road trip, another 5 hours in a car with Emily en route to Perth Ontario. This time it was for the World Record Kilt Run.

This was sort of a costume race, because all participants had to be clad in a regulation kilt to run. That way we were able to be part of the world record attempt. My friend Emily was the driver on this road trip to crazy, and we departed Hamilton at 5am, yet again another 'dark o'clock' drive.

Coffee, McDonald's, road kill, the usual, except this time we found a large fruit on the side of the road. I've driven past it many times and never stopped, but it's a tradition in Em's family to go and get treats. Little did I know that I'd develop an unhealthy addiction to something called the Mumble Crumble from the Big Apple

Fast forward another 3 hours and we arrived in scenic Perth. I should mention that when we registered for this race I thought Perth was near London, ON, NOT like 10 minutes from Ottawa :-) Damn, need to brush up on my geography.


In Perth we hooked up with Shannon, my bestie from Orillia, and Camilla and Kerri from Kingston.  

We ran amuck in town for a bit complete with  Big Ben, temporary tattoos and haggis tossing (that's Camilla throwing a haggis (haggi?) on the right). 

For about 15 minutes I was in second place in the contest.

What a beautiful town, a pretty place on the river Tay, home to Ian Millar, and friendly people who actually STOP to let you jaywalk! 
However I have to wonder why Big Ben has a butt hole?

There was a wedding in the park and the bride asked if we would pose with her for a photo, I'd love to see how that turned out!
You can just see the bride off to the left in this photo to the right. 

This is us in our 'Pride of Scotland' tartan kilts, which you could actually order for the race. That way you met the 'official' kilt rules for pleating and buckles and all that fun stuff. They are warm, thank goodness they weren't wool!

Part of the fun was that we ran at 6pm,so it was just sort of hot, not 'aaaa, frying' hot.  They had water stations every KM, which not only made the time fly but also kept you hydrated. There was also a Warrior Class, and they had to complete tasks like a javelin toss, rolling a huge tire, fording a stream. They ALSO had to carry a 5lb wooden shield and 5lb sword the entire course. Glad I didn't accidentally register for that!

I haven't run with Shannon since like 2007, so this was the perfect opportunity to get caught up as we looped around Perth (and around and around and around).
As we approached the finish like she yelled 'Race you' and took off like the tall gazelle she is. You can actually SEE her yelling as she vaulted off in the photo above. We are in the video at about 1:11:00 running in like freaks.

We got socks for finishing, this is my SECOND race in a row where there's no medal.....what the heck is wrong with the world?

One of the other great things about this race was the photos were included in the price of entry. I LOVE that, and I think Zoom Photo takes some of the very best photos out there.  They had them up and indexed by Monday morning too!

I did have a bit of feedback for the race director but I won't include it here as I want to give him time to reply and we can figure out the issues before I go complaining in my blog.  **update** All is well, great reply and resolution from the race folks.

This another one of those races that I wish wasn't so far from home, because I'd love to do it again next year. However, I now have the PERFECT thing to wear when I go see Gowan in December!

This weekend I'll be in Toronto for World Pride running the Pride and Remembrance run. Break out the rainbow tutu, here I come!