Category Archives: Health

A Terry Fox Legacy: Terry Fox Run 2013

1-IMG_1839One of the first things every school child in Canada learns is that Terry Fox is a Canadian hero. The Terry Fox Run every year in mid-September also draws crowds from every city across the country to raise funds for the Terry Fox Foundation, set up in memory of Fox to support cancer research. This event has also become worldwide, and millions of participants in some 60 countries come out for the Terry Fox Run.

Terry Fox’s story has become a legend. When he was only 19 years old, Fox’s right leg was amputated after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He was a distance runner and continued to run with an artificial leg. In 1980, he embarked on a cross-Canada Marathon of Hope to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. His noble endeavour to run a marathon distance every day was sadly cut short when it was found that cancer had spread to his lungs. He had reached Thunder Bay, Ontario, after walking for 143 days from St. John’s Newfoundland . He died nine months later. His effort has resulted in the establishment of the Terry Fox Foundation in 1981 to carry on his dream.

I was with a group of friends in the recent Terry Fox Run. We power-walked a 5 Km distance in memory of a walking buddy who lost his battle to cancer. It was a beautiful day, and everybody at our walk location, Coronation Park in Oakville, ON, was upbeat and excited about the walk.

There were a festive atmosphere around. Stores were selling souvenir items. The cheerleaders were all already to go. The first group to head out at the start line were children on their bikes.

Then came the runners and walkers doing 1 Km, 5 Km and 10 Km, and of course our pets could take part too!

As the Terry Fox Foundation website has put it, this is a “non-competitive and all-inclusive” event. We can run or walk at our own pace, and the most important part is to remember our loved ones who have lost the battle to  cancer, pray for those under treatment or in remission, and to cherish the hope that one day the disease will find a cure.

Nothing was better for our team at the end of the walk than to enjoy a snack at our team table.

We shall see each other again next year!

1-IMG_1840

Advertisements

Tips For An Icy Dicey Winter Walk

1-IMG_0523

The weather this winter has not been friendly for athletic training here in southern Ontario. In January we had very cold weather with negative double digits (Celsius) temperature and windchill.  In February, we have had a few days with snow followed by a couple of warmer days to melt some of it, and the ground re-freezes again. This has made the roads icy and slippery. However, this does not deter those of us who prefer to exercise outdoors. There is nothing that can match the fresh air when you exercise in the open. It is only when it is absolutely necessary that I would get onto my treadmill or elliptical machine and plod away watching the Food Network, which is my only incentive to exercise at home.

As my coach has said, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” How to equip oneself for a training walk on an icy dicey day is an important lesson to learn.

1.  When it is icy, the prerogative is safety, and this means making sure that you don’t slip and fall. A walking buddy who fell earlier this year and sustained multiple fracture on her humerus was too sad a reminder that we must not take safety for granted. The essential equipment: Tracks.

1-IMG_0600

For me, walking with tracks is analogous to driving with snow tires. They give me better traction and holding to reduce the risk of slipping or skidding. I have two pairs of tracks. I just put one on each of my shoes for this photo illustration. The one on the left has wires and it provides very firm footing. However, the downside is that it is also harder on the feet especially on asphalt or cement when there is not enough snow on the surface. I use this pair only on the day after a snow storm and before the plows are out. The one of the right has spikes and they are kinder to the feet on landing. I have been wearing them for many winter walks.

A word about my shoes too. They are trail shoes that have deeper grooves. I find them good for winter walking even when I am not on the trails. They are slightly heavier than my other all season training shoes and racing shoes and higher on the heels, yet for long winter walks, they provide me  with safety.

2. I need to protect my face when I walk outdoors. The biting wind and wind chills can take a lot of pleasure away even when I  have dressed appropriately. First I put some Vaseline or Shea butter (any cream as long as it is not water-based) on my face. Then my hat and my face mask. The is how I look when I go out—looking like a Ninja or a bank robber. I do not put my sun glasses on to remain incognito. The glasses or goggles are good to shield the glare of the winter sun or the wind that makes the eyes watery.

1-IMG_0599

Besides my balaclava, I also have two other pieces of face covering.

1-IMG_06041-IMG_0609

The neck scarf is like a tube that I can pull up or down as desired to cover my mouth and nose and it is versatile for the slightly warmer days. However, the down side with any face covering that goes over the nose is that my glasses will fog up easily. The solution is the face mask with a nose beak and perforations around the mouth area.

3. When it comes to clothing, layering is the key. Technical fabrics air better and when I am out for a work out walk, I do not want to overheat and trap the heat inside my clothing. I can survive the cold without a down jacket when I train.

4. In the summer, I freeze my drinks before taking them out. In winter, I make it warm or hot. Don’t be surprised to find your water or sports drinks turn into slush. It has happened to me when the walk is longer than three hours. Even though it seems unnecessary to replenish water in winter training, the body may exert more without our knowing, because it has to work hard to balance the body such that it does not fall.

5.  Always aim for safety rather than speed when training on an icy, snowy day. You cannot tell what lies under the snow. Adjust your speed according to the condition of the road surface and footing. Although you are walking slower, the amount of energy output during winter training does not alter much from normal training, because the body is working harder. This is good to know if you are counting energy output or calories.

6. Taking smaller or shorter steps also helps to reduce the risk of slipping, and still keep to good walking form. You may need to look down more, but do not bend your head down, because it tilts your balance.

7. The muscles become stiff easily in winter training. Make sure you do a good stretch afterwards.

8. You are one brave soul and should be very pride of yourself for completing your outdoor training in winter. Do not forget to reward yourself. I become hungry faster on an icy walking day. What’s waiting for me and my walking buddies after the distance walk (usually 14 to 18 Km) is breakfast at our favourite haunt near the university in Hamilton. The Pancake House serves decent breakfasts and it is frequented by the local athletic community on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

1-IMG_0524 I rewarded myself the other day with a ham and eggs breakfast. I ordered sunny side up (normally I ask for poached eggs) and home fries (my rare treat, for otherwise I only have tomatoes). The extra dessert was a chocolate coffee rice crispy brought in by a friend. Well, I exercised on an icy, dicey morning; therefore I could indulge.

1-IMG_05281-IMG_0526

8. Finally, the pleasure of walking outdoor is to enjoy the scenery around us. The same route can look different with the variation of the weather and the seasons. Hamilton Harbour welcomed me on this icy wintry walking day.

1-IMG_0521

Winter Training: Bring It On!

I went for my first weekend walk this year with my walking group. The walk also marked the beginning of the winter training season in preparation for races upcoming in the spring. We chose to train on part of the route of the Around the Bay, a 30 Km race around the Hamilton Bay. (This race has a long history, which is older than Boston.) Our walk included walking up and down two most challenging hills and also the most scenic sections in the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

In spite of the cold outdoor temperature, the sun had come out. Many runners and walkers were out training too, and it was always nice to meet some familiar faces.

Another familiar sight of winter training was the snow. The paved roads were normally salted or plowed, as in the section near the Royal Botanical Garden car park. However, by the time we came to the foot bridge, which was closed to traffic, a good 150 metres was snow-covered and icy underneath.

It was beautiful nonetheless. On one side was the frozen Hamilton Bay.

On the opposite side was the trail of the Garden.

We made our way up the “killer” hill as it was generally known to the athletes and we looked back down at the CN rail beneath.

It was an invigorating 12 Km walk and a great way to comply with my 2013 walking resolution. This year, I have committed to the 2013 Walking Challenge recommended by my walking coach and this is to walk 2013  minutes each month.

Cheer Leading At The Boxing Day 10-Miler, Hamilton

DSC02229

Who would like to participate in a race on Boxing Day?  There were over 800 runners and walkers out there in Hamilton, Ontario to take part in the Boxing Day 10-Miler, organized by the Harriers. Races in Hamilton had a long history, and this race was in its 92nd year. Three Olympic runners also signed up for this race.  I had chosen to  support my running and walking friends, including my husband by cheering in the race, and I could enjoy the race from a different perspective.

DSC02216

It had snowed the night before, and the temperature was minus 1 degree Centigrade when the race started. There was a head wind giving a wind chill of minus 10 degrees Centigrade. The Start Line was on Hunter Street, next to the GO Station. The organizers were supportive of a walking division and gave the walkers a half-hour early start.

After seeing my husband and other power walkers off, I walked down to Bay Street in the city centre, bought myself a coffee and waited for the runners to come by. The police cruiser led the way for the front pack who took off way ahead of the others.

DSC02219

DSC02220

DSC02221

The route was familiar to me since my walking buddies and I often trained on this route. At the end of Bay Street, the race course turned into the trail along the Lake to Princess Point. The racers would go up a hill of 500 metres (Longwood Drive), went through Westdale and turned up another hill at the Chedoke Golf Course to walk along the Niagara Escarpment  (I took this photo during our training walk last week.)

BDayChedoke

After cheering the runners past, I walked back towards the Finish Line. What a change of weather we had, and this morning, the streets were wet and slippery. I took a picture from the bottom of the hill–up there in the background was the trail on the Escarpment and the racers would come down this hill, knowing that they were close to the finish, because literally, it’s all downhill from here.

DSC02222

The route passed the back of the Hamilton City Hall.

DSC02224

Further downhill and the GO station came into sight.

DSC02225

Around the corner was the Finish Line, and there I was fortunate enough to get this candid shot of the snow plow clearing a path to lead to the Finish.

DSC02227

I was well in time to see the first runner come in and it was a strong finish of 51:42, given the not so favourable climate and route today. Look at the awesome form the athlete maintained at the end of the race:

DSC02230

I waited for my husband and my friends to come in, and we all enjoyed the generous treat of hot soup, fruits and cup cakes inside the YMCA building.

The finishers were awarded a snowman medal (so cute!), and there were really nice souvenirs available for the race this year. All the people I cheered on enjoyed the race in spite of the weather. Maybe I should contemplate walking it next year.

BoxDStuff

The Interconnecting Trails in Dundas Valley

The first thing I noticed when I set foot on McCormack Trail in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area this morning was the snow from overnight on the fallen trees trunks. It was a good reminder that before too long, we would be hiking with our snow tracks. The McCormack Trail was a gentle trail which went through open fields and it had an incline at the top of which, we could enjoy the panoramic view of Hamilton.

Flanking the roadside and meadows were goldenrods which had turned silvery white.

After doing a loop on the McCormack Trail, we took up part of the Main Loop of the Bruce Trail, and hiked on the John White Trails, joined the Sawmill Trail before ending our hike from Spring Creek Trail after hiking for 14 Km.

The fun of hiking in Dundas Valley was that the trails with mostly interconnected and under the guidance of an experienced hike leader, we could customized our distances. Today we returned to the Trail Centre of the conservation area from the back, just a different view from the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail. 

From Hamilton to Dundas: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 3)

We had five days to rest after Day 2. Came Saturday the following week, we were up again to meet outside Dundas Golf Club at 6:30 a.m. for Day 3. It had been raining the past few days, and it was still raining when we headed out. We had to wear our ponchos, which despite keeping us somewhat drier, also made climbing uphill more dangerous.

We had done almost 70 Km so far walking from north to south on the Bruce Trail. The organizers planned it such that the hike was in a south to north direction this weekend.

Day 3

The bus took us to Mountain Brow Blvd. on Hamilton Mountain. We entered the trail by the Red Hill Creek Side Trail (following blue blazers) and joined the Main Bruce Trail (following white blazers) at the bottom of the hill. The hike today was to walk across Hamilton Mountain, enter Dundas Valley Conservation Area to return to the golf club. We were hiking on the same elevation in the beginning, but because of the rain, footing was slippery, and we had to be extremely careful not to  step on the moss.

We hiked through King’s Forest and soon found ourselves on the Escarpment Rail Trail. The rail line was below us and Sherman Access, a thoroughfare, was above us. We heard the sound of trains and traffic, and this was a different experience from just hearing the sound of wind and rain splashing in the forest. On a day like this, I much preferred the feeling that I was close to civilization. The first check-point was at Beckett Drive.

The next lag was on the Chedoke Radial Trail and the paved surface was a reprieve in the rainy weather. Soon after passing the car park of the Chedoke Golf Course, we saw water rushing down from the mountain above. The rain had brought the waterways and waterfalls to life. However, it had also caused flooding. There was an area where we had to wade through a rushing torrent and our shoes and socks were all soaked. Fortunately, we had hiked on this section of the trail before, and the knowledge that after crossing the bridge over Hwy 403 we should be arriving at the second check point at Filman Road motivated us on.

The next section of the trail should also the most scenic. First we passed Tiffany Fall and its bridge.

Then there was Sherman Fall and we had entered the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

Canterbury Falls soon appeared.

Then we crossed the Sulphur Creek.

Had it been a sunnier day, the Dundas Conservation Area would have been ideal for photography. Meanwhile, we focused on our hike and what a wonderful feeling it was to arrive at the third check-point at the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, where bagels with cream cheese were waiting for us.

We had less than 5 Km to go, and we knew that the end would soon be in sight when we were hiking along the perimeter of the Dundas Golf Club.

We were very wet and soaked at the end of the hike. It was a relief nevertheless that we had completed almost 30 Km on this third day. The feeling was more of anticipation than fatigue, because we only had one more day to go. We must rest well this night.

Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference Maps and Trail Guide, Edition 27 (2010). Maps 7 and 8.

From Burlington to Dundas: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 2)

After Day 1 and the Epsom salt bath when we got home, there was little time for recovery, because Day 2 followed immediately the next day, Sunday.

Day 2

The meeting place was at the entrance of Dundas Golf Club at 6:30 a.m. and the bus took us to where we finished the hike the day before on Guelph Line and No.1 Side Road in Burlington to begin the hike. No sooner had we entered the trail, we had to climb over a stile which demarcated private property line, and because the Bruce Trail was passing private property  the Bruce Trail Conservancy had an agreement with the owners for hikers to walk on their land. In fact, we climbed over several stiles on this day’s walk.

The sky was clear and the sun has come out.

It was a pleasant hike through open fields and farmland and we were hiking south-west passing Kerncliff Park and City View Park Side Trail (one of the newest Bruce Trail side trails). We reported to the first check-point on King Road and we continued on through Waterdown Woods. It was mid-morning and what a glorious day! The most spectacular sight came into view at the Great Falls of Smokey Hollow.

However, we had to slow down, partly to enjoy the scenery, but more so, to avoid colliding with the numerous photographers who had set up their tripods to capture the beauty of the falls. There was only a very narrow footpath to get by. We were essentially squeezing by with a  hanging cliff on our left and a ravine on our right. One faulty step and one could fall off the ravine.

The trails eased off along the banks of Grindstone Creek.

When we came out of Clappison Wood, there was a tunnel to cross under Hwy 6 to avoid the heavy traffic, and we arrived at the second check-point. Time for a quick lunch which went down well with hot apple cider, and up the hill we climbed again. We entered the grounds managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens.

A creek flew serenely on the lower grounds and on the higher grounds, the lookout onto the city was equally peaceful.

I was excited to see Borer’s Fall, one of the “punchbowl falls” on the Bruce Trail. The name “punchbowl” came from its semi-circular shape, which was formed by the erosive turbulence of the whirlpool of melting ice when it came downstream many years ago.

From the escarpment here, we looked out to the city near the horizon.

The Bruce Trail continued on Sydenham Road and we were walking on paved road again, down the city streets of Dundas, into its residential area and uphill to King’s Street West to our cars outside the golf club.

It was a day blessed with nice weather, breath-taking scenery, and great comradeship walking with other hikers. We looked forward to resting our feet in the next five days before Day 3. We did almost 70 Km so far in two days.

Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference Mpas and Trail Guide Edition 27 (2012). Maps 8 and 9.