Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Husband and I are in the country tonight. Snuggled in by a roaring fire, we've just enjoyed a delicious supper of Atlantic scallops and Annapolis Valley wine, listened to Randy Bachman's "Vinyl Tap" on CBC, and chatted with two dear friends from our CUSO days!

Now, as we await the fireworks, we're wishing our friends and family around the world the happiest of New Years. May 2012 be a year of love, light and peace for all.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A sense of place

I wonder sometimes what it would be like to go through life without feeling so connected to my "place". I can't really imagine it.

Today, as penance for all the food I've consumed over the past week, I drove to Risser's Beach and ran 16k from there through Petite Riviere to the far end of Green Bay and back - with a brief side trip to the top of Drew's Hill to take in the view.

It's an area I know well since I've spent time there regularly for more than 30 years. There's no other place on earth where I feel so peaceful or so entirely myself.

Today was stunningly beautiful. Sunny, still and mild, it didn't feel at all like late December. There were quite a few others walking Risser's Beach but I had Green Bay (pictured above) almost entirely to myself.

When I reached my turnaround point at the far end of the bay, I wanted nothing more than to stop and stretch out on sun-warmed sand, listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline and let my mind drift awhile. Only the knowledge Husband would worry if I didn't arrive home on schedule kept me from giving into temptation.

Do you have a place that you feel connected to in the same way? If so, what makes it special to you?

(Below, a few more pics from my run.)

From the top of Drew's Hill
Risser's Beach from the Green Bay Road

The house I want to live in one day. :-)

Far end of Green Bay
Little Risser's Beach

Monday, December 26, 2011

A picture perfect Christmas

Late last week, it looked as if we might have a green Christmas but, fortunately, five or six inches of wet snow fell on Friday (the 23rd) clinging to tree branches and power lines to create a wintry wonderland. The next day, temperatures fell sharply and stayed low preserving the picture perfect landscape for Christmas day.

Her Majesty the Cat, Husband and I arrived at our country place just as the storm abated and in time to share a meal of fresh lobster with my parents. Lobster is a favourite treat this time of year. Over the years, Husband and Dad have mastered the art of cooking it so that the soft, sweet meat literally falls from its shell. Dipped in hot butter with fresh bread and salads, and followed by Mum's homemade lemon meringue pie, nothing makes a finer meal.

Of course, that meal was merely the opening act for the feasting that's gone on in the two days since. We spent Christmas Eve afternoon with my folks, my sister and her family devouring smoked salmon, hot stuffed mushroom caps and baked brie with crisp green apples. After church, it was back to my parents' home for Mum's homemade pork and chicken pies accompanied by fresh cranberry sauce.

Is it any wonder I was in need of a run before Christmas dinner yesterday? Though the wind was bitterly cold, I reveled in running for an hour along the river - breathing in the beauty and stillness of the day, and catching glimpses of bald eagles soaring overhead in the late afternoon sunshine.

Naturally, like any conscientious runner, I fueled my body before heading out - with caffe latte, delicate melt-in-your-mouth raisin tarts made by Husband, and Mum's short bread cookies and fudge.

Christmas dinner last night was the traditional roast turkey with all the fixings - including Mum's fabulous sweet potato and pecan casserole. Husband and I were so stuffed by the end of the meal that we postponed dessert for a few hours - finally scarfing down slices of buttery Christmas cake, raisin tarts, and fudge as a bedtime snack before toddling off to sleep.

I awoke this morning to a milder, drizzly day and have been lolling by the fireplace reading a novel ever since - pausing only long enough to consume thick turkey sandwiches, another plate of sweets and a large mug of caffe latte flavoured with eggnog. I thought I might go for a long run this afternoon (goodness knows I could use it before we tackle pasta with sherry lobster sauce tonight) but, with all the relaxation, rich food and rain, postponing to tomorrow seems a better idea. Forecasters are calling for a sunny, warm day so perhaps I'll treat myself to a run along a couple of my favourite beaches if Husband doesn't object to being abandoned for a few hours.

I hope you're enjoying your holidays as much as we are! I'd love to hear what makes Christmas (or whatever you're celebrating) picture perfect for you. Is it the food? The music? Special activities? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I ran and - guess what - it didn't suck!

Christmas lights on Sullivan's Pond   

A quick post before I sleep so I don't keep my faithful readers in suspense. :-)

Yes, I ran - tonight after work.  Because I'm still recovering, I promised myself I'd only run 4k but it was such a beautiful evening, and it felt so good, and the Christmas lights were so magical that I ran a little over 7k and, even then, didn't feel like stopping. What a gift!

Now, I must sleep - but not before I mention one last thing. The lake. It was perfect - utterly still, its surface reflecting lit windows, streetlights, clouds in the sky above - even the red blinking lights of a small plane flying low on approach to Shearwater Airport.

My favourite view was of two condominium towers located at the far end of the lake. Their reflections on the surface of the water, aglow with Christmas lights, resembled intricate stained glass windows. A perfect image for the season.  I paused for several minutes under star-lit skies to drink them in before turning to retrace my steps towards home.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Running sucks...

...when you can't run. Which I haven't been able to for a week because of a nasty chest cold.  I don't remember the last time I went seven days without running but it's a been awhile.  Hopefully, this particular non-running streak will end tomorrow after work.

On the upside (because I always try to find one when I'm blogging), at least the week's been an opportunity to put on some weight.

Back in March, I wrote about being too skinny and I haven't really managed to put on any weight since then - though I hasten to add that I'm definitely not just "skin and bones".  In fact, my body has become pretty darn  muscular after a year of hard training - my legs in particular. This picture, taken as I lined up to run the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon in October, shows that I think. There may not be much to me but what there is is tough as all get out. Which is why it's killing me to be laid up like this. I'm simply not used to so little activity.

So tomorrow, I run.  Whatever the weather.  However I feel.  I run.

Isak Dinesen said, "The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea."  And I know from personal experience the three together can work wonders!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

May we never forget

There were 14 women murdered in the Montreal Massacre on December 6th, 1989, simply because they aspired to work in a male-dominated profession:
Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a second year scholarship student in mechanical engineering.
Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.
Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master's degree.
Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.
Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering.
Maud Haviernick, 29, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials, and a graduate in environmental design.
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a 2nd year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.
Maryse Laganiere, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.
Maryse Leclair, 23, was a 4th year student in engineering materials.
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a 4th year student in mechanical engineering.
Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.
Michele Richard, 21, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials.
Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials
I'm grateful for their legacy - a new determination to end all forms of violence against women - but I'm also sad that so little has changed in the 22 years since.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2009 women made up only 22.3% of those working in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering and 6.4% of those working in trades in Canada. And, of course, violence against women remains a huge problem here as it does elsewhere. At special risk are aboriginal women.

There is some good news. Today, more men and boys are prepared to speak out on issues of violence against women, initiatives like the White Ribbon Campaign raise awareness of the issues and encourage men to get involved and we now have a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.

Still, we must never forget those 14 young women, and what their deaths taught us about the work that remained and still remains to be done.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I run to be...

I read this post from "I <3 to run" on Facebook last week:
Never underestimate the strength of a woman.
Never f#@K with one who runs 26.2 miles for fun.
My apologies for the colourful language but I love the sentiment. After all, one of the main reasons I run is to be stronger - physically, mentally and emotionally.

We still live in a world where violence against women is so commonplace we scarcely notice it. But, over the past few weeks, heart-wrenching reminders have come from close to home - a murder/suicide not far from where I grew up in PEI, the body of a murdered woman found on a serene wooded path where I run regularly, a teenaged girl from the north shore who disappeared on her way to meet her boyfriend. 

Though I refuse to let fear keep me from running, such stories remind me that violence has a gender. The great majority of perpetrators are men and far too often the victims are women and childen.

The slogan for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco last month was "I run to be."  But at various points in the race, runner were invited to take it a step further and ask themselves what running helped them to be. It was inspiring to see so many say that they ran to be "fierce", "fearless" and "strong".

There were other inspiring things about the race:  Kara Goucher and Joan Benoit Samuelson - two iconic marathoners - stepping up to the start line in solidarity with us average runners. Mothers and daughters, sisters and friends, of all ages, shapes and sizes who've made running the race an annual tradition. And the awesome sight of thousands of Team in Training runners proudly displaying the names and pictures of loved ones on their t-shirts. 

I've just hung this poster from the race on my office wall in hopes it will inspire me - not just to run more - but to work harder at being the person I've always wanted to be - fierce, fearless, compassionate and committed to making the world a better place.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Running Lessons: To be or not to be ... present

A moment of quiet reflection in Peace Park

Many runners I know wouldn't dream of heading out the door without their ipods. They like the distraction and motivation of listening to high energy music while they run. Others tell me they use their running time to organize their day or solve complex problems. Still others say they "zone out" when they run. One acquaintance even told me he often got lost because he became so disconnected from reality that he no longer had any idea where he was or how to got there.

From the beginning, I've taken a different approach. I never listen to music. Instead, I listen to - well, whatever's around me - birds singing, waves pounding the shoreline, the wind in the trees, cars swooshing past, the soles of my shoes crunching on gravel beneath my feet, or the sound of my own breathing.  And, when I run, I don't solve problems or strategize about the future. I simply try to pay attention to the moment I'm in, to feel every sensation and to experience the wonder of being alive in such a beautiful world.

When I first started running, I sometimes dreaded going for a run - telling myself I just had "to get it over with."  Nine and a half years later, I try to begin every run grateful that I "get" to be out there, attentive to how my body's feeling on that particular day, and excited by another opportunity to explore my physical and psychological limits. 

It's why I like having my smart phone with me. Looking for images to capture helps me focus on the now, rather than zoning out or getting too caught up in my thoughts.  

Here's a link to a few of the pictures I've taken on my runs this fall.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on being present while you run. Or not.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

First winter run

Winter was a long time coming this year but, when it arrived, it came with a vengeance.  The scene above awaited me as I stepped off the ferry last night.  By morning, things had improved considerably but roads and sidewalks remained treacherous. Fortunately, warmer temperatures cleaned up the worst of the mess by this afternoon so I looked forward to joining my friend Sue for a mellow 10km run home this evening.

As it turned out, it was a lovely first run of the winter season.  Temperatures dropped quickly as darkness fell but the skies were clear and there was little wind. We ran a long loop into the south end of the city before turning to head towards Dartmouth and across the old MacDonald Bridge - swapping stories, laughing and offering advice and support the whole way.

I'm very grateful to have Sue in my life. She's a wonderfully kind and gentle person, full of good humour, wisdom and common sense. Born and raised in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, she's worked incredibly hard her whole life and raised two great kids pretty much on her own. Best of all, she's at least as passionate about running as I am - passionate enough to run no matter how tired she feels or how bad the weather.

Over the years, we've completed some tough training runs together - through sleet and freezing rain, on ice-covered sidewalks, over waist-high snowbanks, and against miserable northeast winds that threatened to blow us off our feet. Fortunately, tonight's run wasn't one of those.

Tonight was crisp and starry-skied. The roads and sidewalks were mostly clear and dry. And the fresh snow shone brightly making the world feel new and everything seem possible.
Sue is headed for Las Vegas next week to run another marathon which she hopes to complete in a "personal best" time of just under 4:30. I feel sure she's up to the challenge. After training hard all year and completing several half marathons, she tackled the many hills on our route home tonight with ease and was still fresh and energetic as we said goodnight.

Thank you, Sue - for sharing the first run of this winter season with me, and for being such a terrific friend and running companion over the years.  And good luck in Vegas! I look forward to hearing all about it when you get back.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

One of those days...

Actually, more like "one of those weeks - when nothing mechanical seemed to want to work properly. On Monday, my microwave gave up the ghost without warning. Last night, it was a DVD player I got secondhand from a friend. Tonight, a fuse blew in the car which prevented the brakelights from working and I wasn't able to fix it in time to drive Husband to the airport. It was frustrating because it meant an expensive taxi fare and - more importantly - that we lost thirty precious minutes together. (Of course, I could have fixed the fuse IF I'd had a bit more time and IF I'd had a flashlight that worked - but it was dead too. sigh.)

I intended to blog tonight about my two runs this weekend (an 8k and 12.5k) - both of which were spectacular - and how much I enjoyed running along the river and through my favourite park.  But I find I don't feel much like it now so here are a few photos instead.

Looking back across the river towards home

On the way through Peace Park

Peace Park bridge
The view down river

A tempting spot to rest - though I didn't

The last of autumn leaves

Thursday, November 10, 2011


My dad was born just as World War II began and his dad served overseas for the first five or six years of his life.

He says his first memory of his father is of a man in a long black coat limping towards him up the road.  When he saw the man, he turned to him mom and asked "Who is that?" To which she replied, "Your father."

It breaks my heart to think of that little boy.

And it makes me grateful for all the sacrifices that were made - by those who stayed home and by those who went overseas.

And it's reason enough to make my way to the local cenotaph tomorrow - however bad the weather - to listen once again to "In Flanders Fields", pay tribute to those who gave so much, and pray that some day, somehow, we will put an end to war.

Monday, November 7, 2011

O'Hare International Airport - Chicago

I recently travelled through Chicago en route to San Francisco. The airport was large, busy and a little overwhelming but I had the good fortune of walking from one concourse to another via this pedestrian tunnel. I loved its futuristic design so grabbed a few quick shots as I rushed to catch my connecting flight.

The other wonderful thing was the music - soft, soothing, new agey - occasionally interrupted by a pleasant voice telling me to watch my step as I approached the end of a moving walkway.

It all seemed designed to make me forget - for a few minutes at least - that I was travelling through one of America's biggest, busiest airports.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I took this photo near the end of my long slow run today. It's a new condominium in downtown Halifax.  I loved the way the late afternoon sun shone through the red balconies.

Here's the image flipped the "right" way up.  I don't think I like it as well - though the building's a lot more recognizable.

Here's the same building straight on.

It was the red light spilling to off the balconies I tried to catch with this last pic.

I feel like I should be able to draw some analogy to life from this series but, after a busy weekend - including a 15km run this afternoon - I can't seem to manage it.  Can you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Have I mentioned lately how much I like my commute?

We've had some grim, grey weather lately but this morning was gloriously cool, clear and sunny. As I stood waiting for the bus, Sullivan's Pond gleamed in the sunshine and the red and gold of the autumn leaves glowed. My heart lifted.

Most days, the best thing about my commute is my time on the ferry. I never tire of being on the water. I love the sound of waves splashing against the bow, the heavy salt scent in the air, and views that remind me of my city's dramatic history - Citadel Hill, George's Island, the Narrows.

The best thing about today's commute wasn't the ride on the ferry though. The best thing was climbing aboard the 8:45 bus and being greeted by John. John's been a bus driver for years and, judging by how he behaves, he seems to like his job. He greets every passenger warmly - most by name - and his passengers respond in kind, calling out to wish him a great day as they disembark.

My first morning in my new apartment, I didn't know the bus schedule so was still half a block away when the bus arrived at the stop. I started running in an effort to reach it before it pulled away - but gave up and began walking when I realized I was too late. At the same time, John saw me and hauled on the brakes, bringing the bus to a stop directly in front of me and opening the door to invite me aboard with a friendly smile. It was at that moment, I knew I'd done the right thing moving back to Nova Scotia.

So -  yes - I love my commute.

From work too - when I so often get the pleasure of seeing and photographing skies like the ones pictured  here.  I grabbed these shots with my smart phone en route to the ferry terminal tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Learning to be who I might have been - one day at a time

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

The Wolves Inside You
An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me.. it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth,
compassion, and faith."
"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other
person, too", he added.
The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child
asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

As we go through life, we're shaped by the things we think and do, the people around us, and the good and the bad that happens to us. In the midst of it all, it's easy to lose sight of what's important - especially when we are tired and discouraged by past missteps and disappointments.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Words to live by

People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centred
… love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives
… do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies
… be successful anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow
… do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable
… be honest and frank anyway.
People love underdogs but follow only top dogs
… follow some underdog anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight
… build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you try to help
… help people anyway.
If you give the world the best you have, you may get kicked in the teeth
… but give the world the best you have
… Anyway.

- Mother Teresa

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Running Lessons: It's amazing what you don't know about yourself

This is going to sound strange but I only discovered in the past couple of years that I have curly hair.  I don't mean wavy hair. I mean honest-to-goodness curly hair. You'd think I'd have known that my hair had big loopy curls, but I didn't. I didn't because I'd never had a hairstyle with long layers that let the curls happen. Now, on days when I let my hair dry naturally, I catch glimpses of myself and am astonished by those curls. Who is that woman with the big hair?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sky paintings 4

The sky was beautiful as I was driving back to the city last night. So beautiful I felt compelled to pull over and take a couple of quick photos, including this one which I took with my smartphone.

And these two which I took with my camera.

I think it's very cool that the blue in this one almost looks like water.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A mysterious urge to run

What motivates me to run isn't always clear - even to me.

For example, I didn't intend to run this morning. I'd skipped a scheduled 5k run last evening because I thought I might be coming down with something, then slept restlessly. Although awake a little after 5:00, I stayed in bed, Her Majesty curled by my side, until nearly 7:00.

But, as I sat sipping coffee and gazing out my apartment window at the harbour, I noticed heavy grey clouds scudding across the sky and tree branches heavy with rain being whipped by the wind, and was suddenly overwhelmed by an urge to run. Before I had time to think about it, I'd donned my running gear (including a long-sleeved shirt for the first time in months) and was headed out to run a brisk 6kms around the lake.

I'm not really sure where the urge came from. Perhaps, it was the wind. I've always loved windy days because they remind me of my happy childhood on a beautiful island where the wind blew almost incessantly. The sound of it and feel of it on my skin are energizing and comforting at the same time.

Or perhaps it was as simple as needing to run off the tension of a frantic week and too much thinking. Or a function of my type A determination to run 60+ kilometres this week - whatever else I did.

Wherever it came from, I'm grateful. The fresh air and exercise were exactly what I needed to start a tough day at the end of a demanding week. Here's hoping the urge to run is as strong tomorrow when I'm scheduled to run 34kms!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The gift of forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you. - Louis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is the final form of love. - Reinhold Niebuhr

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately - what it means, how it works, and what it accomplishes.

I've written before that I don't think forgiveness is about "forgetting" or "condoning" someone's actions. It's about accepting the things that have happened and showing empathy and compassion for the person you think is responsible for the hurt and betrayal you feel.

I've noticed though that it's often harder to forgive those you care most about - perhaps, because it's so painful and confusing when they do things that hurt you. 

It's also harder to forgive when the person who's hurt you doesn't appear to have any genuine insight into what they've done or feel any real remorse. 

Lastly, I think it's harder to forgive when you're vulnerable or stressed as a result of other things going on in your life.

We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness from time to time. Goodness knows, I've been the recipient of far more forgiveness than I had any right to expect.  So I believe forgiveness is a gift we should try to offer one another when we can - even when the recipient isn't particularly interested in receiving it.

Hopefully, they'll eventually come to appreciate what's offered. But, if they don't, at least you'll know you did what you could to create a little more peace in the world - a little space for quiet reflection, compassion and reconciliation.

And, who knows, maybe the person you forgive will remember and "pay it forward" - offering forgiveness and compassion to someone who wants and needs it more than they do.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chi Running, Part 3 - The trick is to pay attention

Over the past few months, I've continued working on my chi running technique. Some elements are coming along nicely - others, not so much.

For example, my "cadence" (footfalls per minute) has increased to something close to the ideal of 180, my core has gotten noticeably stronger, and, at the end of my long runs, my abdominals and hip flexors usually feel more fatigued than my legs. My biceps are stronger and more defined too - presumably as a result of changes in the way I swing my arms.

Still, there are some elements with which I continue to struggle - most notably loosening my hips so I'm able to extend my stride when running downhill or picking up speed, and being present enough to notice when things go awry.

It shouldn't be so hard to stay present. I deliberately keep distractions to a minimum. I don't run with headphones, I nearly always run alone and I do my best not to think about work. However, very often I can't resist "writing" while I run - developing themes for my next blog post or simply composing messages to friends and family.

A case in point: My long slow run last weekend was 33kms along a beautiful coastal road. The sun shone brightly but there was a stiff breeze compliments of Tropical Storm Irene. For the first half of the run, I did a good job of concentrating on maintaining my form while still enjoying the scenery around me. As a result, my body felt balanced and strong. At around the 26km mark, however, I suddenly noticed things had changed. My left shoulder was tight and had shifted forward and up, my neck and upper back were hurting, and my gait was lopsided. When had all that happened and why hadn't I noticed sooner?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magical summer days

Crescent Beach
We’ve had a cool and rainy summer here on the east coast of Canada.  As a result, I haven’t spent nearly as much time outdoors as I usually do this time of year – aside from when I’m running, of course.  And it’s a shame because there’s something truly magical about warm summer days.

For example, last week was a little frantic because I was “acting” for my boss who was on vacation while preparing to go on two weeks’ vacation myself. One especially harried day, in dire need of sustenance, I slipped out to pick up a sandwich.  Emerging from the sandwich shop still distracted by thoughts of work, I was abruptly struck by the fact that the day, which had started out cool and foggy, had become an idyllic summer day – warm and sunny with just enough breeze to make it comfortable. Though intending to head straight back to the office, I allowed myself to be drawn to the square in front of City Hall by the sounds of a quartet playing a noontime concert and plopped myself down in a shady spot to eat. The quartet, a talented group of young jazz musicians, played a selection of its own autobiographically, often hilariously titled compositions. The concert was enjoyable enough, but the magical part was watching a group of three and four year old children dancing – their tiny bodies moving in effortless interpretation of music that was – to my ear at least – almost entirely without rhythm, their faces earnest as they turned occasionally to watch the players.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

RIP, Jack Layton

‎"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton

In life, he inspired a new energy and passion for politics amongst the young.  Here's hoping his untimely passing encourages many more of us to take up the torch and work towards positive change in the world. 

Tributes in Toronto

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Running Lessons: Not all addictions are bad for you


- noun
  1. the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
Distance runners are often heard to quip that “not all addictions are bad for you”.  Indeed, Nike has built more than one advertising campaign around the notion. (For example, see this video on YouTube.)  And I have to say I agree with that sentiment for the most part. 

Lately, however, I’ve been wondering about my running addiction and whether it’s altogether a good thing. The truth is I have been pushing myself pretty hard these past six months or so. And then there was that little matter of finishing a marathon in June when common sense probably should have persuaded me not to. 

I was discussing this with my very wise friend, Brent, a couple of weeks ago when we ran together in Ottawa. Brent’s own running addiction is a serious one so it’s a matter to which he’s given some thought. Perhaps, he suggested, one thing to consider is whether one is running “away from” or “towards” something. 

I’ve been pondering that question ever since.  How would I characterize my running?

Sky painting 2

I took this shot en route to work early one morning this week. Gotta love that sky. I can't believe I ever thought clouds were white.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Running Lessons: Road trips and fresh perspectives

Husband and I did a road trip earlier this month to attend a friend's marriage celebration in Bracebridge, Ontario. We drove from Ottawa to Bracebridge one day and back the next (5 hours each way) so we didn't have a lot of time there, but neither of us regretted the trip for a minute.

It was great being able to join in the celebration and the weather and scenery were beautiful both days. Our route took us through picturesque villages like Wilno, where we stopped for lunch at the Polish Heritage Park and visited the local farm market.

It also took us through the stunningly beautiful Algonquin Provincial Park. Though we didn't stop for a hike or a paddle as we've done in the past, we thoroughly enjoyed the views through the car window.

Another high point of the trip was staying at the charming Spirit Bear B&;B where we were welcomed by this little guy named Eddie.

Eddie's caregivers, Terry and Eva, were wonderful hosts, their home (a former church) was beautifully decorated, our room (complete with rocking chair) was comfortable and well-appointed, and breakfast was delicious. I'd highly recommend Spirit Bear B&B to anyone planning a stay in Bracebridge.

Other than the party itself, the best part of the trip for me was going for a run on Sunday morning before breakfast. I've always thought running was the ideal way to explore a new place and this run didn't disappoint.  Upon leaving the B&B, I first ran through a lovely neighbourhood characterized by century homes with beautiful gardens, then did a little window shopping along main street and ended up on a trail that followed the river's edge past some of the town's oldest historic buildings and into a lovely park. Along the way, I exchanged cheery hellos with the many other runners and walkers out enjoying the warm, sunny morning. By the time I returned to the B&B, I'd fallen a little in love with Bracebridge and felt completely relaxed - like I didn't have a care in the world.

I suppose that's the real value of road trips for me. Seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing new things opens me up so that I can take a fresh look at my life and relax into the present moment.  I'll have to remember that the next time I'm tempted to suggest we stay home rather than striking out on some new adventure.