A Dark and Early TPW Morning…

I always find it the hardest getting up early Saturday mornings in the dark before the sun rises,  knowing it will be wintery cold outside.  This Saturday was definitely no exception but up I got and out the door I went to join the other intrepid souls in the cemetery (the living ones, anyway)  for our TPW morning walk.  It felt chilly, snowflakes were falling and there was a bit of a biting wind that struck our faces; there was no warming sunlight to alleviate the cold on this particularly Saturday, the last one of the year.
And so we come to the end of 2018 and I naturally think of endings and beginnings but also most importantly, of  continuing.  Continuing to walk of course but also continuing to grow and continuing to change.  Endings and beginnings are significant milestones but the commitment to continue is the real test.  Time is a very interesting construct; we break it into meaningful (to us, anyway) segments but it is really much more like a flowing river we are immersed in.  The writer, Jorge Luis Borges wrote:  
“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which  sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.â€?
So ring in 2019 with these parting pearls of wisdom from me:  “Party On!” (my personal favourite), or in the words of that famous rock song:  “Keep on Keepin’ On”!  And I’ll see you next year, alive and well, in the cemetery.

XL, XXL and Beyond

Nineteen of us gathered for the walk. We munched on Catherine’s delicious short bread cookies before doing our  warm up stretches (led by Diane). The weather was cool and gratefully without rain.
After our walk, sixteen gathered for breakfast . Per usual, our conversations were stimulating. We spoke about meeting at the Resolution Run (Palais Royale 1601 Lake Shore Blvd W, December 30th, 2018  @9 am )  and the idea of ordering race clothing  in XL, XXL sizes. Did you just gasp when reading this part? Let me explain the background to this conversation and the purpose.
For those of you who are new, we gather in January or February to renew our membership and discuss further races. It is during this time that we place clothing we do not want and have acquired at the races onto a table for exchange purposes. What ever is left over is given to charity.  The clothing consist mostly of medium sizes.
There is a member of our community who is associated with people who – because of the side effect of the medication they are required to take  – balloon up into the XL, XXL and beyond clothing size range. They are individuals who would like to race but whose financial situation forces them to spend money mostly on meeting their basic need.  
Over the years I have acquired all sorts of jackets and tops, I simply do not need any more. I have now penned on my 2019 To Do list that all clothing I acquire from 2019 races will be ordered in XL, XXL and beyond (if they have it) sizes and then I will place them on the table for exchange and charity purposes.  
So for 2019 the question is posed :   XL, XXL and beyond anyone ?

Through Someone Else’s Eyes

I had the pleasure of introducing a friend to TPW on Saturday morning.  She had been a member of Jean’s Marines as a runner during its last years and was interested to learn that the walking branch had morphed into the Toronto Power Walkers for the past ten years.  Introducing someone to the group is a deep pleasure.  Although I never forget how blessed I am to have this group in my life, seeing it through someone else’s eyes brings the gratitude into greater focus.  I realize anew how much each member adds to my life.  As I walk, I have people who never tire of the stories about my grandchildren (or are too polite to say so), people who entertain me with their travel stories, or their entertaining encounters with others.  I also have people who privilege me by sharing their trials and their ambitions. 
As I write this, I’m listening to my curated Christmas collection.  So many of my favourite carols and holiday songs reflect this sense of gratitude, none better than dear, deeply missed, Freddie Mercury singing:
Oh my love 
We live in troubled days
Oh my friends
We have the strangest ways
All my friends 
On this one day of days
Thank God It’s Christmas.
A reminder to all: February 9, after our walk, we’ll convene at Diane’s for our breakfast and ‘quarterly’ meeting.  Details coming.

Looking back and walking forward

On Tuesday December 4, I attended my first “Black and Medals dinner� at the Harbord House. Thirty-five Toronto Power Walkers celebrated ten years of pounding the pavement together. It was fun to look at everyone’s medals and listen to all the racing stories. I spoke about my 217 km walk from White Rock, B.C. to Seattle, Washington, with EverWalk, founded by marathon swimmer, Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll, head handler on the Cuba to Florida swim. (For info about future EPIC walks, visit EverWalk.com.) Thanks to Sue for organizing such a wonderful evening and to Phyllis for being the MC. And thank you to TPWs, for welcoming me into your fold.

This Saturday, there was a light dusting of snow on the trees and trail in the cemetery. It was a crisp -2C, but bright and sunny. Our intrepid group of 20 winter walkers did the 6.3 km circuit at a brisk pace. (Dianne and Rorie arrived an hour early and walked 12.6 km.)
Looking forward to the 40th Annual Robbie Burns 8km Road Race on January 27, 2019 in Burlington.

Random thoughts on a winter’s walk…

Our shoes trample the brown remains of fall’s bright leaves.
The barren trees say winter but a deceptive mildness lingers.
There is a coyote in this cemetery,
living wild amongst the quiet dead.
Once we saw a hawk here,
snacking on a squirrel.
We walk and talk
gloriously alive, when the others here are not.
Winter conquers summer but summer will rise again.
Is there something profound in this simple act of walking with friends on a winter’s day?
Looking forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday at our annual winter’s social where we will celebrate our 10th anniversary!

A View from the Back of the Pack

Twenty-two people walked around the cemetery; all of us TPWs. It was cool and without rain.
I was at the back of the pack.  My ongoing saga of recovering from a virus I will not bore you with, except to say it was great walking the distance with someone.
Fading at one loop around cemetery, I went for breakfast. When those who went around the loop twice entered the restaurant, they were energized and the room full of conversations.
One of the TPWs accompanied me at the back of the pack. We reached back into our histories of about fourteen plus years and exchanged conversations about our very first marathon. When I was at the restaurant a very new member joined me and I disclosed to her information regarding our history and training.
That’s the beauty about this group. There is always something to contribute, to learn, to reminisce. This is true whether in front, middle or the back of the pack.

Fresh Air

Snow! All day Friday as I watched the snow pelt down, I was a bit apprehensive about the walk Saturday morning.  Would there be ice?  But Saturday morning dawned, a balmy 2 degrees, and everything had melted.  Sure footing all the way!
I’d been away the past 2 Saturdays, visiting relatives in a small suburb of Oakland.  I was there when the first reports of the Paradise fire came in and also when the toxic air advisories began in the Bay area (San Francisco and Oakland.) It was very sobering,
That was on my mind as I walked with the group, catching up on the news of the past weeks, especially Sherry’s tale of the New York Marathon.  As we walked and talked, in the back of my mind I was aware of my relatives’ need to stay indoors.  The fresh cold air felt like a privilege.

Second week in our northern home

What a lovely day! Yes it was brisk, but that’s what layers are for, right? If I’m not mistaken, we saw the first little spots of ice on the ground. OK, it was cold. Maybe that’s why we were champing at the bit to get ourselves going. Of course, one of the topics of conversation was the gloomy, gloomy, gloomy week that was. (Did I mention it was a gloomy week?) But not Saturday morning. The blue sky was a wonderful introduction to the colours we were about to enjoy. Bright red leaves blanketing the still green grass. Brilliant yellow of leaves still adorning the trees. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, emphasizing the latter half of fall, leaving the more muted green of evergreens. We’re so very lucky to have the change of venue as we move from our summer digs in High Park to our winter home in the cemetery. Even though we’ve walked the distance many times in both spots, the change of location always makes it feel fresh and new. And the colours of this Saturday certainly welcomed us back in style for our second week in our northern home!

Hurray for Sherry and Dianne!!

The cheers could be heard all across Ontario down to New York City as many TPWs were tracking the whereabouts of Sherry and Dianne as they raced in the New York Marathon.

I hold my breath every year, worrying about the weather, even if I’m not doing the race, because we all know how terrible it feels to walk in the Cemetery, in the rain let alone walk 42.2k!  Miraculously the weather seemed to hold for them this year…(or so it appears in the photos online).

It’s an awesome race, with some of the most iconic views along the way.


                           
NYC and Marine Corps Marathon are top of my list for scenic races.  Another favorite because it is just so much fun is Disney.  No one takes it seriously, so the pressure to finish in a good time, is lessened.Another lovely smaller race, that provides potato chips halfway through the marathon, is the Baltimore Running Festival. 

Some of our walkers won the lottery, literally, to get into the latest big city race, in London England, and we expect to hear from them after their late March race.

Walking isn’t only doing marathons, but the elated feeling when you cross the finish line is worth it, even if just once!!

THANK YOU TO THE FIVE TPWs

Cold and rain are not a good combination for my body . There is something about it that bothers my bones BUT  dressing  appropriately does  minimize  the negative impact.
Starting the fifth week of my body having what  has been a very  nasty virus, I decided not to bundle up  and walk on Saturday. I remained home.
Finally feeling  as though my body is on the mend I am  glad I made that decision. If it had been sunny I think I could have finally joined in.
What is comforting  to know is  that I can , after five weeks,  just walk right back in .
I am well aware that  after weeks of not doing 10 Ks  during the weekend and 10,000 daily steps during  the week, my body will protest. At least I think it will. I do not think –  in the 15 years I have been walking the distance –  I have missed so may scheduled walks.
Within the four full weeks of the illness it has been comforting for me to know that there are TPWs out there walking the distance. If I let my mind wander, I can hear the chatter and the soft sound of the sneakers hitting the ground.  
I hear that five TPWs recently walked the distance in the cold and rain  .
I want to thank you for keeping the torch burning.
It means a lot.