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Archive for January, 2009

Disappearing Act

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Any long trip requires that I visit a book store beforehand. If possible I like to go to used book stores, and stock up on anything that catches my interest. I am not much of a library person, since often I leave books on planes, give them to someone else once I have read them, or simply don’t like to read on someone else’s time-line. The problem is that when I travel I must have at least 3 books in my carry on, and a couple more in my checked luggage. The first book I am guaranteed to start and finish on the main flight, no matter how long or short. The second book is so that I have something once I finish the first, and the third is in case one of the first two is a dud. Travelling with a bike is hard enough, but add to that a mini library and it gets even tougher.

I have often wondered how much longer books will stay in print, before everything becomes down-loadable and digital. I know that is already available, but we still have paper books as well, and I certainly hope those don’t disappear for a while yet.

The other day I read an article called “25 Things Vanishing from America”. Thankfully books weren’t on there yet, but things that were on the list included

VCR- ok, no big loss, nobody likes to rewind anyway

Answering machines, cameras that take film, yellow pages, ash trees

Hand written letters- I must say I have beautiful penmanship, so now there is another useless skill I can add to my resume

Honey Bees- that one is scary, how can bees just disappear, and what happens to trees that need pollination and to my toast in the morning that will now be honey-less?

Now it makes me wonder what has disappeared in the past year, or 5 years, that I don’t even realize, or miss for that matter.

Pool half full, or half empty?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Swimming is the first sport I picked up, somewhere after the dodge-ball playground game where you try to hit others with a rubber ball. So I have put in a lot of time swimming up and down in small pools, big pools, with kids a third my age, and with senior citizens triple my age.

I must admit though, I have been finding it a challenge to find suitable pool time. I often swim with a club, NYAC, full of much younger and speedier fishies, which is terrific. Everyone knows the unspoken rules, when to let someone pass, how to keep your own line in the lane, how to not hog the wall. However when I need to swim any other time I am in constant search of public pools that actually have swim-able lanes. I am jealous when I see pictures of empty pools, or hear Johnnyo complain that he is lonely, swimming in a big, deserted pool all by himself. Meanwhile I am dodging swimmers doing sidestroke in the “fast” lane, trying to not do flip-turns on people stretching across the entire wall of the pool, attempting to not let my “lane rage” get out of control. Everyone has heard of “road rage” plaguing drivers in cities with too many cars, and not enough roads. Well, I am guilty of “lane rage” when someone cuts me off in the pool, or someone “stalls” in front of me, or changes three lanes at once without any consideration for others. When a gentlemen collided with me after jumping into a lane right in front of me I was wishing I had super loud horn to “beep” at him.

I finally found a sweet little pool, right by my house, which usually is quite busy, but has a “women’s only swim” a couple evenings a week. It was awesome, the first time I went there were only two of us in the pool, it was superb. So off I went again this weekend, trying to not get too excited. I walked on deck, and tried not to see the pool as full, but rather as half empty. There were a few people there, not too many, but unfortunately some were swimming widths, rather than lengths. I watched for a few minutes and realized the two ladies, fully dressed in full sleeves and full pants, were just learning to swim and were simply pushing off the wall, gliding and not even making it a third of the way across the width. So if I got in at the far end, and swam lengths we could co-exist quite happily. I got in, started my warm up, then a pull set, always keeping an eye to make sure the path was clear. Now the two new swimmers were getting better with each try, and the older lady of the two, the mother, was getting farther and farther each time, gliding and then trying to move her arms in a flailing motion. Soon she would probably glide so far we would be colliding. However I was pretty impressed by her perseverance. I noticed they were watching me and trying to see what I was doing with my arms, and then trying it. I couldn’t help myself, and stopped and asked if they wanted any help. The younger of the two, the daughter, probably in her late teens quickly introduced herself, and was very keen to ask how to do things. The mother spoke very little English, but was a quick learner. Much quicker than her daughter. It was interesting to see how the mother, twice her age, could grasp the idea of the movement, and the response of the water so much differently than her daughter. We spent the next 30 minutes working on gliding, blowing out air underwater, kicking and moving the arms. It was only their third time ever in a swimming pool, and they had decided to learn how to swim. How amazing.

I didn’t get my entire swim in that night, but I walked away from that pool with no lane rage whatsoever. Perhaps next time it will help me see the pool as half full of people trying to be better at something, whether it is a skill, or better health, or just a clearer mind, rather than full of people getting in each others way. I will still continue to dream of big, wide, empty lanes though.

Chased by a snowplow

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Joining team TBB will be the start of a big adventure for me in 2009. There is an air of expectation and I am a bit nervous about meeting the Doc and the other team members. As I get ready for the Philipines training camp here is a little peak at what it is like to train in Canada in January.

This past Sunday morning I ran in the most peaceful place to run in Toronto, the cemetery. It was quiet, there were no people, no dogs, no cars. Thoughts were running through my head faster than my feet slipping on the winter roads, when I heard a loud noise. An engine roar and a loud scraping. I looked back, and saw a bright yellow snow plow barreling towards me. I scooted over to the side of the road, it passed me by, the driver gave me a wave, and headed off for another loop of the cemetery as did I. We met again and again; too many times to keep track, and each time he waved, and probably wondered why. Why is this nutty girl running here, on a cold, snowy weekend morning?

As strange as this may sound, I have always liked cemeteries. As a little girl in Prague I would occasionally spend weekends with my Grandma. It made me feel special to get Grandma all to myself and not have to share her with any of my siblings. I got to sleep in a different bed and stay in a different apartment; it was an adventure. When I visited she would take me on her walks to the cemetery to visit my Grandpa’s grave. It was never sad, or morose. It was a pleasant walk to visit a memory. So even now I find cemeteries very peaceful, and beautiful, and in many large cities it is an often overlooked green space.

And my running cemetery also happens to have the clearest roads of anywhere in the city at a time when none of the streets have been plowed. Where else could I get my own personal snow plow to clear my running path?
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There is a runner here in Canada, now 77 years young, who holds the world record for fastest marathon run by a man over 70. He ran a 2:54. And where does he train? Around a cemetery close to his house apparently. My husband jokes about him being close to his final resting place when he does pass on but apparently he feels safer there. There are not as many cars, and the ones that are there are moving slower and are paying attention. No stop lights either so the pace is always consistent. So I am not the only one running loops, around something other than a track.

This post is a first for me in many ways. Not only is it my first post for the site, it is my first blog altogether. I know I am way, way behind the times. So I look forward to sharing some adventures, as well as perhaps the more “routine” daily life of training, training, and more training followed by racing up a storm of course.