Sunday, October 31, 2010

EXPANDING THE HORIZON: RUNNING THE MAPLE LEAF

With 43 States and the District of Columbia checked off – and looking at a fairly light race schedule next year – it appeared there might be a need to add a new dimension to our running goal. The Continents appeared overly ambitious (though not out of the question) – but our northern neighbor looked not only quite possible, but downright inviting. So after some deliberation, but little fanfare, Canada’s ten Provinces were added to the goal – with its major metropolitan area being the first target.

Toronto proved to be a wonderful – and surprising destination. I had always known that it was a big city, but hadn’t realized it was a HUGE city with over two-and-a-half million residents and well over 5 million in the metro area – constituting the 5th largest metro area in North America. As such, it had everything a big city offers – to include traffic! We enjoyed a Major League baseball game in the Rogers Center with the Blue Jays hosting the Orioles;



we drove through many distinct neighborhoods with personalities of their own; we visited one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and enjoyed Chinese cuisine; we spent time on a beautiful waterfront (Lake Ontario) and the ferry to a delightful island in the Lake; we traversed two VERY “high-rent” neighborhoods and were duly impressed;



we visit the St. Lawrence market – where you could buy just about anything and everything; and we strolled through the city enjoying shops, stately government buildings – to include the Provincial Capitol, and the trappings of a very cosmopolitan and international city. Oh….and by the way – we also ran a half-marathon!


As races go, it was a big one and a good one. There were over 20,000 runners in the various races, including about 8,000 in the half. Race logistics were good, the course was flat and fast, and featured both waterfront and the city center. I had my best time since my hamstring issues in South Dakota – so was grateful to be able to really run again. The post race food wasn’t the greatest, but the finisher’s medal was nice and, overall, it was a great start to Canada’s Provinces.


Part of the trip also included a morning in Buffalo and a night-time visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Buffalo’s downtown had some impressive buildings and views and a similarly pretty waterfront along Lake Erie.



Niagara Falls at night is quite different than in the day – but still quite a sight with colored illumination and the mists. However, we felt like we were driving down the Strip when we entered the Canadian city of Niagara Falls! Lights, glitz and excess – they had it all!


And to make the night complete – after our visit the US Border Control didn’t want to let us back in the US! We were stopped at the border, ordered to place our hands on the dash and steering wheel in plain view, then escorted out of our car – by a squad of armed agents to the “facility” where we were separated and had to wait nearly an hour until they had determined that MY Karen Johnson wasn’t the Canadian criminal being sought. Whew…..what a relief – and just when I was getting worried about those unaccounted for years!


Okay – to the “thoughtful” nature of this post. First – it’s nice to know your wife isn’t a criminal. Beyond that, it became apparent to me during this race – as it has on occasion before – that we are creatures of habit. We grow accustomed to certain routines and when we are taken out of those, it can impact us – often adversely. In a “runner’s world” our habits can dictate our outlook. We prepare for races a certain way; our pre-race night needs to follow a certain pattern; our race-morning must play out according to schedule; our pre-race “eliminations” need to happen; and during the race we expect certain things for pacing, for hydration, for breathing and for who knows how many other things. One of those little things in Toronto was learning that the course didn’t have mile markers, but rather kilometer markings. Suddenly, my world was upside down! As it turns out, it’s an easy system to pace to – once you are expecting it. There has to be a lesson there – and I think it has to do with flexibility and adjustment – and figuring out a way to not get flustered when we think we have “lost control.”


Our foray into Canada was a great one. We are looking forward to the next nine Provinces under the banner of the Maple Leaf – which just happens to be the name of Toronto’s National Hockey League team – the Toronto Maple Leafs.

4 comments:

Super Daysh said...

Oooh! Those pictures are pretty! It looks like you guys had another great race! And I too am glad that Karen isn't a criminal. That is really funny though! What a fun adventure! Glad to see you had a good race and that they let you back into the US.

princess jen said...

I'm glad Karen isn't a criminal! Was this the race where I watched Rachel? Kudos to me then!! :) I'm glad you are back to running normally again and you are all healed up.

Bug said...

Daddy those pictures are seriously really pretty!! a lot of them look like post cards!
karen is a criminal. brownie/ice cream thief extraordinaire.
this is the first I heard about that whole ordeal!! I can't believe you were separated and questioned!!! that is crazy! and what a hassle. hahaha. geesh.
sounds like a great race where you were able to fit in a lot of neat things to see and do. love you guys!
and congrats on being able to really run again. :) i hope you continue to heal up to normal. :)

Rachel's Mommy said...

Wow--you got a lot of pictures in this post!! This was a great weekend, as all race weekends are thanx to your great travel planning. Looking forward to the rest of the provinces, and then... :>)